VITAMIN D AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE

The importance of proper Vitamin D levels in our body is a no brainer. 2000-4000 IU for an adult – that is the recommended daily dose. Supplementing in the winter is the most important, but taking Vitamin D year-round will have no ill effect on our health. But how does Vitamin D relate to our sport performance?


Actually, it’s a hormone

Although the importance of Vitamin D for health is quite well-known, Vitamin D’s effect on sports performance is not, eventhough atheletes might benefit even more from Vitamin D supplementation than the average individual. Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, but a hormone. A steroid hormone, with multiple forms (D1, D2, D3). From this point forward, by Vitamin D I will be referring to Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

Vitamin D can be found in our food, but our body can synthesize it in in our skin in the presence of UV light. Vitamin D3 is converted (and thus activated) to calcitriol in our liver and in our kidneys.

The human genom consists of approximately 18.500 genes. Out of these 18.500, around 2000-300 genes have a regulating element that can bind Vitamin D. Just to make it clear: Vitamin D has an effect on 2000-3000 genes in our genom.



Vitamin D’s indirect effect on sports performance

Vitamin D has a direct and in indirect effect on our physical performance. Inderct effects include the effect on insulin sensitivity, calcium-metabolism, immune function and testosterone production.

The better our insulin sensitivity, the better the nutrient partitioning – that means, that we will store the consumed carbohydrates in our muscles after a meal, and will burn our body fat for energy between meals. Proper insulin sensitivity leads to better body composition,and increases muscle glycogen storage which leads to better recovery. 

Vitamin D has a key role in the absorption of calcium from the GI tract, in the reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys and in the incorporation of calcium into our bones. Proper Vitamin D levels decrease the chance of stress fractures and overuse injuries as it strengthens joints and connective tissue. 

Without healthy Vitamin D levels our immune function will suffer. A strong immune system is a must for anybody looking to achieve a high level of performance. 

The higher the Vitamin D, the higher our testosterone levels will be, which will lead to increased performance, strength and regeneration. 


Vitamin D’s direct effect on sport performance


Vitamin D has a certain type of receptor in our muscles through which it can exert a direct effect on muscle performance. Vitamin D has a direct effect on muscle protein synthesis and through the manipulation of calcuim and phosphate metabolism, it has a direct effect on muscle strength and performance. 

For example research conducted on football players showed, that correcting deficiencies leads to a significant increase in muscle strength, sprint capacity and VO2Max! 

Proper levels of Vitamin D are a must whether your goal is overall health or maximum sport performance. Take a supplement year round, no matter how much time you spend in the sun. 



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