Although it’s called a vitamin it’s actually a hormone. It helps the body absorb calcium, helps prevent illness, mood disorders, muscles need it to move, and can help prevent heart disease and obesity.
Our bodies make vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun as long as we have skin exposed that isn’t covered in sunscreen. Sitting inside and being exposed to the sun’s rays through your window will not have the same effect. Cloudy skies, dark skin, being further away from the sun during the winter months will drastically reduce your body’s absorption of the sun rays for your body to make Vitamin D. Therefore most of us need to supplement to get the amount of Vitamin D we need.
As you can see your basic health needs require you to have adequate levels of Vitamin D. But there are also other benefits that come with proper levels
Some studies are showing that supplementing with Vitamin D even if your Vitamin D levels are sufficient aide in recovery following intense physical exercise, even if you are an active athlete. Vitamin D also regulates neuromuscular functioning and impacts protein synthesis which can impact your performance and recovery.
Another benefit of having sufficient levels of Vitamin D is it has been shown to reduce inflammation, another side effect of working out.
So how does Vitamin D help us with fitness?
- Reduces muscle soreness and aids in faster recovery
- Reduces inflammation also aiding in a faster recovery
- Helps in building a strong immune system allowing us to work out more frequently
- Helps in mood disorders such as depression
Get your blood work done and see where your Vitamin D level is. I really recommend it. With studies showing that more than 25% of people are deficient you need to know if you are one of them. North Americans are recommended to have 600 IU’s a day as the recommended daily allowance.
There are foods that naturally have Vitamin D and foods that have been fortified but according to certified clinical and integrative nutritionist Sunny Brigham, whose job is to help people transition to a plant-based lifestyle, it’s not possible to get enough vitamin D on a plant-based diet. Mushrooms grown in the sun, fortified Tofu and non-dairy milks will help but if you are a very physically active person you may need to supplement. If you are vegan I recommend getting your Vitamin D that is sourced from lichen instead of sheep’s wool.
I’m not a fan of supplementation but if you are not getting enough Vitamin D due to:
- living in colder climates
- the foods you consume
- lacking sun exposure because of covering up with clothing and sunscreen
- genetic issues such as a mutation that blunts your vitamin D receptor
- living a very active life and requiring a higher level than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA’s are the recommended amount for the average person)
you should be supplementing. When asked about supplementing I recommend Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, 2 Vitamins most people are deficient in. See the following image for a quick reference:
Another reason to have your blood work done is Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. Just like a lot of things, too much of a good thing can be bad. Also, you should have a good understanding of not just your Vitamin D level but also other important health indicators such as B12, calcium, magnesium, cholesterol, etc. If you are lucky in that you live in a country with great healthcare getting your blood work done will not cost a lot of money. You may have to push your doctor for it but don’t be afraid to do that. Don’t feel bad about advocating for yourself. Most doctors won’t push for these tests until you start to show symptoms and by then who knows what damage has been done. And most doctors wont link things such as excessive muscle soreness, mood disorders to possibly being caused by a lack of Vitamin D. Doctors are trained to prescribe medication, drugs. Complain about inflamation and they will prescribe ibuprofen or naproxen, complain about depression and they will prescribe SSRI’s or SNRIs.
But what if, what if these things were due to lack of Vitamin D, or B12? You wouldn’t know, would you? And now you are dealing with terrible side effects due to being on these drugs.
You are in charge of your health, not your doctor. Don’t be afraid to take charge!
Keep exercising, keep eating well and healthy but have your blood work done and more than likely you will find out that you need to supplement your Vitamin D. And if you are eating well you probably only need to take Vitamin D and B12.
One more thing, check out the infographic below from FoundMyFitness’ Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
Yours in health,