In this cold weather with shorter days, we don’t get outside as much as we do later in the spring and summer. One of the consequences of a lack of sunlight is the risk for vitamin D deficiency. Our diets don’t provide close to the amounts of this vitamin that we need. We get most of our vitamin D3 through ultraviolet exposure. If you work or spend most of your time indoors, you could have low levels.
A huge percentage of the population has deficient levels of vitamin D. More than 50% of children and adolescents, about 75% of Caucasian adults and 90% of African-American and Latino adults have low levels. Even elite athletes appear to be at risk.
In this video, I discuss some of the proposed benefits of this important vitamin.
It might improve athletic performance.
Increased levels are associated with increased strength, jump height and power, and exercise capacity.
It might prevent or decrease overtraining syndrome.
Supplementation of this vitamin might decrease inflammation after heavy physical training sessions, theoretically allowing you to resume training faster.
Having lower levels might increase your risk of bone and joint injury.
Research on athletes on a professional sports team found that players who suffered a musculoskeletal injury had vitamin D levels that were much lower than those players who did not get injured.
Supplementation might decrease your risk of falling.
Fast-twitch, type II muscle fibers are thought not only to be important for athletic performance but also for fall prevention. People with adequate vitamin D supplementation are thought to have a 20% lower risk of falling, possibly due to its effects on type II muscle fibers.
Higher vitamin D levels might have other health benefits.
You might be less likely to suffer colds and the flu with increased levels. Researchers are currently studying many other aspects of physical and mental health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, strokes, asthma, many cancers, and depression.