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Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Author:Britt Maughan R.D.
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Vitamin D image

Vitamin D

Vitamin D (aka the ''sunshine vitamin'') is a fat soluble essential vitamin that plays an important role in disease prevention and in maintaining optimal health. Vitamin D affects nearly 3000 genes in the human body, and supports our bodies in many ways including bone health, teeth health, and helps protect us against conditions and diseases.

Vitamin D is especially important for athletes, as it plays a role in immune function and calcium absorption. Often times training (and over training) can compromise your immune system and make you more vulnerable to sickness - obviously an athlete with a cold or flu is not a happy or effective athlete. The link between vitamin D and calcium is critical for athletes - as it helps in preventing bone fractures and injuries. 

Benefits
  • Supports a strong immune system
  • Helps with calcium absorption to support bones and muscles 
  • Helps fight disease such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease and cancer
  • Helps fight depression
  • Helps reduce conditions such as diabetes, chronic inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Helps fight infection and helps treat tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, and flu
Sources
The Sun
The best way to naturally get vitamin D is through sun exposure. Your body can synthesize vitamin D from UVB rays through a process involving cholesterol. However, many people are deficient in vitamin D (roughly 85%) due to our lack of sun exposure – with the elderly being the most at risk. To get the benefits of this process, you need to be exposed to the sun during UVB rays which occurs between 10 AM and 2 PM, with enough skin exposed to optimize the D3 produced (sadly – the hands and face just aren’t enough). The time you need to be in the sun depends on your skin pigmentation, with fair skin needing less time, and darker skin needing more time. 

Diet and Supplementation
The reality is that most of us train in the early hours of the day and work at jobs where we are in-doors and out of the sun during UVB radiation hours. This is where diet and supplementation are key. There are few foods that contain high levels of vitamin D. This small list includes beef liver, egg yolks, fatty fish (like tuna, mackerel and salmon), and foods fortified with vitamin D (such as dairy products, soy milk, juices, and cereals). Supplementation does a better job at providing enough levels of vitamin D3 to be effective. At FTM, we carry a variety of supplements that have quality vitamin D sources to help you perform at your best and avoid deficiency. 

Bottom Line
Chances are, you aren’t getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D3, and it’s benefits and impact on your health are too important to ignore. Everyone can benefit from a vitamin D supplement, along with healthy sun exposure and a balanced diet. 

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