Are you a Runner? Vitamin D is your best friend!

Last Modified: June 6, 2019  |   Created on: March 22, 2019
General Health

Did you hear, runners? You need to look out for your Vitamin D levels as it can plays a significant role in your athletic performance and output. It is general misconception amongst active sports persons and even general population living in sun-prone areas that they get enough sunlight and therefore, no chance of them being Vitamin D deficient. But one test may prove majority wrong! Studies published in Current Sports Medicine Reports and other journals suggest that athletes are at a considerable risk of vitamin D deficiency. In fact, there is a substantial percentage of runners with low levels of Vitamin D.

Are you a Runner? Vitamin D is your best friend!

Importance for Runners

As runners there is usually a lot of stress on your bones and muscles and it becomes essential to have healthy bone as well as muscle strength to be at the peak of your performance level. Vitamin D is important when it comes to bone repair, maintaining bone density, promoting muscle strength and immune system which in turn impacts overall vigour. Furthermore, Vitamin D can help you improve your athletic competence in terms of speed, reflex rate and endurance which is known to be an essential part of trail running and almost all kinds of sports. 

How can Vitamin D deficiency impact your performance?

The deficiency of Vitamin can have some serious impact on your bone health and can prevent you from being at the top of your game. Studies published in “Nutrients” suggested that the problems like stress fractures, chronic muscular pain and increased chance of sports injuries are linked to low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important part in stimulating cell growth and neuromuscular functions other than bone mineralization and calcium regulation in our body. Deficiency of Vitamin D can be linked to impairment of all these and immune function as well. Muscle weakness, balance, pain, and deterioration of bone density are common problem faced by people with suboptimal level of this vitamin. 

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How much is needed?

Normally, the body requires an estimated 3000–5000 IU/day of vitamin D, but the high levels of physical activity in the case of athletes arise the increased physiological demands for vitamin D for them. (The vitamin D epidemic and its health consequence – Holick MF in J Nutr. 2005 Nov; 135(11):2739S-48S.) Sports Medicine experts and orthopaedic surgeons consider insufficiency to be when the level in blood is less than 30 ng/mL, while the recommended level by many sports-medicine doctors is above 50 ng/mL.

Note:

Too much of anything can be bad! It is important maintain healthy Vitamin D levels but it is as important to not overdo it as vitamin toxicity can be as harmful. There is barely any chance of vitamin D toxicity from sunlight (as body has feedback regulation system for its synthesis) or from food items. So, the major cause is supplements and it is therefore very important to stick to recommended levels only. The vitamin toxicity can cause hypercalcemia, i.e. excess of calcium levels in blood and have symptoms like nausea, weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue, frequent urination and disorientation.

Where to get Vitamin D?

Sun exposure: The most known natural way to obtain adequate levels of Vitamin D is through exposing your skin to sunlight for 15 min for light skinned people and 30 min in case of dark skinned.

Food items which can be a source for vitamin D are fish, liver and egg yolks and mushrooms, and also fortified food items like milk and cereals.

Supplements: If you are unable to maintain sufficient level of Vitamin D through natural way and dietary intake, supplements can be recommended by the physician. Supplements are usually given in the form tablets, liquid pills, or powder of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) as it is the most absorb-able form.

Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is well-versed and knowledgeable in topics of science and medicine, and has worked under brilliant scientist during her higher education. She has obtained her degrees in Masters and Bachelors in Science - Microbiology (with Hons. ) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.

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