Vitamin D is one of those things we grew up with and never really paid much attention to. Everyone knows about vitamin C and its ability to help you dodge flu season, but unless you live in frigid winter climate with scarce daylight hours much of the year, you’ve probably never thought about upping your vitamin D game.
That is, until now, of course. Turns out, vitamin D, which is steroid based, should be everyone’s business, since even though hit is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to the sunlight, you are unlikely to meet your daily requirements.
This is especially true when talking about hard training athletes like yourself, as average is never enough. Read on to discover the compelling reasons why it is in your best interest to start getting more dietary vitamin D ASAP.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
There are many people that take mindset and motivation for granted, especially if they’ve never really grappled with theirs. However, for many others, depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)[i] is so intense that it effectively inhibits the desire to workout, having an adverse effect on health and physical wellbeing.
SAD often occurs during winter months when sun exposure is limited. Supplementation with vitamin D, in the form of the more potent and active D3, is one way to help mitigate the feeling of lethargy, and indifference that is common at this time.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones at your disposal, but like anything else, if taken for granted can wreak havoc on your physique and health as a whole. When things go awry, it’s usually because of one thing- insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is virtually the pathway to developing diabetes, a disease you should avoid at all costs. Vitamin D can help you do just that.
Diabetics, and people in pre-diabetic stages were able to significantly improve their blood glucose control by supplementing daily with 2000 IU vitamin D. another study found a strong association between vitamin D levels and insulin resistance/ type two diabetes[ii], so it is worth your time ensuring your levels are optimal.
Bear in mind that improved glucose control and insulin function also translate well to increased uptake of glucose and amino acids into muscle cells, which is the icing on the cake for a well done workout.
Increases Protein Synthesis
Being a steroid compound, you would expect it to have some sort of effect on protein synthesis right? All jokes aside, this in its own right makes vitamin D worth your time. Taken post workout, it can actually increase the rate of protein synthesis[iii], especially when combined with the BCAA leucine.
This effect is further potentiated because leucine itself stimulates insulin secretion, making for greater lean mass accrual.
May Increase Testosterone Levels
If you’re a hardworking athlete, then you know that a significant portion of the progress you make in the gym (and out) will be attributed to your testosterone levels. Supplements that claim to increase yo8rntestosterone levels are a dime a dozen, but what if you settled on one that can do that along with so much more?
The thing is- vitamin D is not a guarantee to increase your testosterone levels. Rather, it possesses a strong degree of correlation. By this, we mean that men who have higher blood levels of vitamin D usually have higher testosterone levels, with the opposite being true as well.
A study published in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology[iv] in 2010 confirmed this, adding that although the exact mechanism for this increase is not well-understood, it is a fairly accurate way to enhance one’s testosterone levels.
A year later, another study, this time published in the journal of Hormonal Metabolism Research, directly compared the effect of administering 3300 IU vitamin D against control over the course of one year[v]. After the end of the study period, men given the vitamin D supplement experienced on average 20% increase in testosterone levels, while the placebo group remained unchanged.
May Help Reduce Fat Mass
Another probable benefit of adding a vitamin D supplement to your arsenal is its ability to help reduce fat stores. Vitamin D levels and fat mass appear to be inversely related, which means with higher body fat levels coincides lower serum vitamin D[vi].
This excess body fat could be found under the skin as well as in muscle cells, which impair the activity of mitochondria in producing energy. Supplemental vitamin D can help promote the utilization of fats by working in tandem with calcium, another well-known lipotropic nutrient.
One thing is clear, although it may not lead to dramatic weight loss, it is associated with a net reduction in body fat.
There are other benefits of vitamin D that you stand to benefit from as well, which while not specific to your athletic goals, are still very important in the long run. For instance, it may help to reduce the incidence of certain cancers, in addition to its very important role in calcium absorption.
Regardless of where you live, vitamin D supplementation is quickly becoming a necessity. It was believed that you could get enough from sunlight if you lived in a tropical climate, but even so it is surprising top find out that deficiency is still fairly common.
Opt for about 2000 – 4000 IU daily to experience its majestic benefits in your life.
[i] Gloth FM 3rd, Alam W, Hollis B. Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(1):5-7.PubMed PMID: 10888476.
[ii] Huang Y, Li X, Wang M, et al. Lipoprotein lipase links vitamin D, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013;12:17. Published 2013 Jan 16. doi:10.1186/1475-2840-12-17
[iii] Salles J, Chanet A, Giraudet C, Patrac V, Pierre P, Jourdan M, Luiking YC,Verlaan S, Migné C, Boirie Y, Walrand S. 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 enhances the stimulating effect of leucine and insulin on protein synthesis rate through
Akt/PKB and mTOR mediated pathways in murine C2C12 skeletal myotubes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Dec;57(12):2137-46. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300074. Epub 2013 Aug 9. PubMed PMID: 23929734.
[iv] Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B.O., März, W. and Obermayer?Pietsch, B. (2010), Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 243-248. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x
[v] Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10. PubMed PMID: 21154195.
[vi] Golzarand M, Hollis BW, Mirmiran P, Wagner CL, Shab-Bidar S. Vitamin D
supplementation and body fat mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J
Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct;72(10):1345-1357. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0132-z. Epub 2018
Mar 21. PubMed PMID: 29563638.