Vitamin D plays a very important role in your health. It’s needed for healthy skin, hair, and nails, and you’ll find that it helps your bones to absorb sufficient calcium. Without Vitamin D, your body would stop functioning properly. Thankfully, it’s an easy vitamin to get, and you don’t need to eat or drink anything. All you have to do is spend some time in the sun, and your body will naturally produce all the Vitamin D you need as a result of the sunlight.
But did you know that Vitamin D could also play a role in your athletic performance? According to a study out of the University of Tulsa, a lack of Vitamin D may negatively impact your muscular strength and overall performance.
The study involved just over 100 collegiate athletes, all of whom underwent testing to determine their athletic abilities–jump test, sprint tests, squat tests, etc. The researchers analyzed their athletic abilities as well as checked their Vitamin D levels. They discovered that roughly 33% of the athletes had less than 72 nanoliters of Vitamin D per liter of blood. This is considered “inadequate” amounts of Vitamin D.
But how did the low Vitamin D affect their performance? According to the data, the 1-Rep Max squat weight of these Vitamin D-lacking athletes was as much as 77% LOWER than the athletes with enough Vitamin D in their bodies. They also ran slower, couldn’t jump as high, and their jump distance couldn’t match the distance of the athletes with sufficient Vitamin D.
How is Vitamin D going to help you be a better athlete? Aside from the fact that it helps to strengthen your bones, the researchers from this study believe that Vitamin D helps the cells of your muscles to release calcium more efficiently. This release occurs during muscle contractions, making those contractions more powerful and faster. The result is better muscular performance, including better running, jumping, and lifting.
Granted, the study was a small one (just 100 participants) and an isolated incidence, so further research is needed to determine exactly how much of an effect Vitamin D inadequacies will have on athletic performance. However, suffice it to say, this is just one more study that points to the importance of getting enough of your vitamins every day!
Vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins can all come from the food you eat, but there is no truly effective source of dietary Vitamin D. As mentioned above, you get most of your Vitamin D from spending time in the sun. Your body produces Vitamin D when it absorbs UV light, so it’s vital that you spend more time outside. With just 20 to 40 minutes of sunlight direct sunlight every day, you can provide your body with all the Vitamin D it needs to function properly.
Of course, it should go without saying that you need to be careful not to spend TOO MUCH time in the sun. Direct sunlight can be harmful for your skin in excess, as it can cause you to sunburn and may increase your risk of skin cancer. Ideally, you should spend no more than 40 minutes in direct sunlight every day. That gives you just enough time for a run, a pick-up game at your local sports fields or courts, or a nice walk around your neighborhood.
Spending this time in the sun will go a long way towards improving the health of your bones, and, as this study proves, it may just make the difference when it comes to athletic performance!