Is Vitamin D Now an Effective Sports Supplement? You Should Be Taking It Regardless.

A pair of studies suggest the underrated vitamin could be an athletic "booster"

vitamin d sports supplement
Nicolas Solerieu/Unsplash

A pair of recent studies have made the case for vitamin D as a “sports supplement.” One, published in the medical journal Nutrients, illustrated that vitamin D intake can have a positive impact on VO2 max and 30-second sprint bursts. Another, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, had ultra-runners run downhill, hard, and registered less “muscle damage” in those who’d taken mega doses of vitamin D.

In both cases, the vitamin D dosing was extreme. The National Institutes of Health recommends adults take in 4,200 IU of vitamin D a week. These runners were popping up to 6,000 IU daily. As Outside Online points out, this sort of research helps to begin legitimizing a small trend in sports nutrition of late, where some athletes are taking vitamin D as a performance booster, not just as a morning pill to address an internal deficiency.

running in the sun
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

For now, we’re still a few studies short of vitamin D taking over locker rooms and training facilities across the country. The skepticism is tied to the absurd number of vitamin D intake some prospecting nutritionists have prescribed — up to 100,000 IU a week. Obviously, there are forms to ingest the vitamin in a higher concentration, but for reference, it’s like water-chasing over 100 pills in just seven days.

Professional athletes already spend a ton of money and time on exercise, diet and recovery. Until vitamin D is roundly proven as performance-enhancing, that sort of routine could be a tough sell. It doesn’t help that some physiologists have concluded over-the-top dosages, while safe, won’t affect performance.

Still, this should be a reminder to the rest of us, the non-ultra-running public, to take our vitamin D. We have the luxury of not needing to know whether a couple more capsules a week will help us run a quicker 62 miles through the Rockies. All we need it to account for is deficiency, and it’s one that most of us live with. Over 70% of Americans get less than the recommended intake of vitamin D. When I took a $5,000 “super physical” in New York last year (it’s a long story), one of my doctor’s top tips was to start incorporating vitamin D into my daily routine.

It’s essential for bone health, it’s vital for the immune system, it helps regulate insulin levels, it inhibits cancer cell growth, and it’s more important than ever, between winter and this damned, unceasing lockdown. Speak to your doctor to get more information, and if you’re looking for an easy, door-to-door delivery, I’m a big fan of multivitamin service care/of. Otherwise, we recommend getting outside, for at least 20 minutes each day, and eating lots of fatty fish. Here’s a recipe.

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