Are you D-ficient?


If you’re a serious athlete, your chances of running low on vitamin D are higher than you might think.

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Researchers from Maastricht and Wageningen Universities recently identified the latest example of a seemingly widespread problem in athletes.


According to the scientists, almost 70% of the subjects in the study group were observed to have insufficient vitamin D status (50-75 nmol/l) or were outright deficient (< 50nmol/l) in vitamin D.



We knowScreen Shot 2016-08-13 at 10.16.15 PM what you’re probably thinking. This is interesting, but what’s the applicability of to me? It turns out “Low D” isn’t something limited to just elite Dutch athletes. Earlier research conducted in the US and Europe had very similar findings, suggesting that many — possibly even most — highly trained athletes are at risk for insufficient vitamin D.




Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to everything from higher Body Mass Index (BMI) to brittle bones and hormone deficiencies to loss of strength, decreased muscle protein synthesis, and reduced aerobic capacity — all of which can adversely affect health, body composition, and athletic performance.



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Recently, scientists identified another possible benefit of higher levels of vitamin D: fat loss. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the most biologically active form, appears to activate the genes and enzymes within adipose tissue thereby increasing fat oxidation or burning. Elevated D concentrations are also positively correlated with endogenous testosterone synthesis and may have the ability to blunt adipogenesis (the synthesis of new fat cells).




The good news is, in otherwise healthy individuals, low vitamin D status is easily remedied. In the recent Dutch study, nearly all of the athletes were able to achieve sufficient vitamin D concentrations after supplementing with 2,200 IU/day for three months. Moreover, once favorable baselines were reached, the athletes were able to cut back the daily dosage to maintain the adequate levels.



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Many nutrition researchers recommend a daily supplement providing at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 to ensure nutritional adequacy. From an optimizing standpoint, some research suggests that taking even more vitamin D may have further ergogenic, or performance boosting, effects and enhance post-exercise recovery.


The Food and Nutrition Board has defined the upper limit (NOAEL) for vitamin D at 4,000 IU/day, which means it’s safe for healthy athletes in daily dosages of up to 10x the % Daily Value on food labels.



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The Take Away: If you’re looking to maximize performance, maintain good health, and possibly reduce body fat in the process, supplementing with vitamin D3 might be a worthwhile endeavor.




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