It wasn't until fairly recently that research linked vitamin D to more than just healthy bones. Today we know that vitamin D plays a role in reducing recovery time after an injury, decreasing inflammation and even boosting low testosterone levels. For female athletes in particular, this translates not only to better health but boosted athletic performance. Read on to discover four things about vitamin D we believe every female athlete out there ought to know:
REDUCE INFLAMMATION WITH VITAMIN D
A natural byproduct of exercise, intense training can create more than an average amount of inflammation in your body. This in turn impairs immune and muscular function, both of which dampen your ability to perform. Not only that, inflammation hinders the amount of power you preserve for your next workout. As stated in a study published in the March 2012 issue of The Journal of Immunology, adequate levels of vitamin D reduce inflammation and cause "a clear chain of cellular events," beginning with our DNA and ending with a reduction in the proteins that are known to trigger inflammation.
BOOST TESTOSTERONE PRODUCTION WITH VITAMIN D
Low levels of testosterone can manifest in many ways and mean many things. Whether it's caused by a hormonal imbalance or over-training, low testosterone in a female athlete can often result in increased fat production and pain after activity, fatigue, low mood, more risk of injury and decreased fitness gains. Testosterone, after all, helps develop bone and muscle mass and strength, as well as facilitate physical recovery. Interestingly, vitamin D is a precursor to testosterone and may also help it bind to its receptors. It may even be possible that low levels of testosterone are simply masking a vitamin D deficiency.
BEAT THE BLUES WITH VITAMIN D
Often called the "sunshine vitamin" (our skin produces it naturally when exposed to the sun), a deficiency in vitamin D has long been associated with a low mood, a.k.a., the blues. If you train during winter or indoors, you will burn the same amount of fuel as in other seasons and environments but without the constant sunshine to hit your daily vitamin D target. For female athletes who depend on a positive mental outlook to keep them going, this can mean less-than-desired results.
INCREASE YOUR OXYGEN UPTAKE WITH VITAMIN D
Your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during exercise. This is particularly important for those who participate in aerobic or endurance sports, when your ability to uptake oxygen effectively has a huge impact on your performance. New research has shown that there is a strong relationship between levels of vitamin D and your VO2 max. A recent study of rowers who were vitamin D deficient found that supplementation caused more than a 10 percent improvement in VO2 max - no small number, especially for an athlete whose end goal can often come down to a split second or two.
HOW MUCH VITAMIN D SHOULD A FEMALE ATHLETE TAKE?
Health Canada recommends 600 IU per day for children aged one to adults aged 70, with a maximum of 4,000 IU per day. But for those who are more likely to be deficient due to intense training or who are at higher risk (i.e., have little sun exposure year round), 1,000 IU is recommended (in fact, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU per day during the fall and winter months for both men and women).
WHERE DO I GET VITAMIN D?
Fish oils like Metagenics OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 1000 provide an excellent source of vitamin D that is quickly absorbed by the body. Interested in helping your body maintain adequate vitamin D? We are a collective of beauty and health professionals dedicated to providing the most up-to-date products and impartial advice - shop our extensive line of vitamins, supplements and exercise apparel today!