Sunshine: Vitamin D For Endurance And Health
Once more popular than it is today tanning has been eclipsed by the knowledge that it might not be good for your skin or health. Skin cancer is one of the most
aggressive forms of cancer so tanning lotion is often replaced with sunscreen
and baking in the sun is less popular than it was. Have we gone overboard about avoiding the sun and are we creating a vitamin D deficiency at the expense of our health and fitness as a result?
deficiency is currently an epidemic in North America and its deficiency can result in a wide range of serious diseases including cancer, rickets, osteoporosis and
diabetes, and recently linked to weight gain from increased fat storage as well as muscle weakness - neither are good news for sports people.
This article illustrates what may be causing you to become vitamin D deficient, how much
vitamin D you really need and the simplest way to get it. The best
vitamin D supplements to take and which vitamin D rich foods to eat are also examined so you can get
optimum vitamin D for your health and help maximise your fitness and fat loss.
Some suggest that vitamin D may be the most underrated
vitamin, possibly because it’s available in abundance for free (so can't be patented and sold by pharmaceuticals). Our primary source
of vitamin D is the sun, however, since skin cancer scares in the media we have
avoided sun exposure and now more people unknowingly suffer from vitamin D
deficiency than ever before. A combination of increased working hours, a cultural shift towards
indoor activities such as video games, internet and other high-tech computer
related activities and the multi-billion dollar skin care industry pushing sun
screens and other skin protection or anti-ageing related products on the
market, may exacerbate the problem.
these important characteristics of vitamin D as suggested by the expert in vitamin D research, Dr. Michael Holick (The author of “The UV Advantage”)
D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation
from natural sunlight.
healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot
penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or
is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet.
Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own
person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each
day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in
order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from
with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 - 30 times as much exposure to sunlight
as fair- skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why
prostate cancer is epidemic among black men—it’s a simple, but widespread,
levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines.
Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering
calcium supplements useless.
vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D
supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous
weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%.
This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease—by creating a critical
vitamin deficiency in the body.
is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight
exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic
vitamin D deficiency right now.
D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.
kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to
activate circulating vitamin D.
sunscreen industry doesn’t want you to know that your body actually needs
sunlight exposure because that realization would mean lower sales of sunscreen
though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body,
your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.
of doctors and med school students are vitamin D deficient.
of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
of African American women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin D.
of young girls (9-11 years old) are vitamin D deficient.
to 60% of all hospital patients are vitamin D deficient.
of pregnant mothers are severely vitamin D deficient, causing wide spread
vitamin D deficiencies in their unborn children, which predisposes them to type
1 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia later in
life. 81% of the children born to these mothers were deficient.
to 80% of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient.
Diseases and conditions caused by
vitamin D deficiency:
is commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium
vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression,
colon cancer and schizophrenia.
is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in
impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning that obese people need twice
as much vitamin D.
D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of
exposure to sunlight.
vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms
are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% -
80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced
risk of developing type I diabetes over the next twenty years.
The great thing about vitamin D, is that no harmful effects
occur from getting too much of it, and since sunshine is the best source of
vitamin D, you don’t need to pay for it. The only thing you have to pay
attention to is getting sufficient sunlight without overexposure, which can
damage your skin and make you susceptible to skin cancer. If you’re
caucasian, all you need is about 5 to 10 minutes of direct sun exposure 2 - 3
times a week. As stated above, keep in mind that as your skin
pigmentation gets darker, you’ll need more sun exposure in order to get
adequate vitamin D.
If you can’t be out in the
sun on a regular basis, such as seasonally in the northern latitudes then vitamin D supplementation is an easy fix. Taking vitamin D supplements or cod liver oil
supplements in the range or 1000 - 10,000 IU per day is suggested. The exact amount
will vary with each individual depending on how deficient they are to begin
with and where they live. The higher the latitude the weaker the sun, so
if you live closer to the equator you’ll need less direct sun exposure compared
to someone living closer to the arctic or ant-arctic.
addition to serious illness associated with vitamin D deficiency, it is now
linked to increased fat deposition and muscle weakness. Athletic performance and vitamin D are closely linked and according to the Journal of Clinical
Endocrinology and Metabolism it has been shown that vitamin D deficiency causes an
increase of fat infiltration into the muscles, causing muscle weakness as well
as weight gain.
As an endurance athlete, runner or cyclist especially, this will have serious detrimental effects on your performance. To further exacerbate this link, excess
vitamin D can get stored in the fatty tissue trapping it and rendering the vitamin D
unusable to the body. This is why people with higher body fat percentages need to get
more vitamin D in order to avoid being
How to ensure sufficient vitamin D and avoid any unnecessary
illness and weight gain:
enough natural sun exposure. Just 5 - 10 minutes a day 2 - 3 days a week
may be all you need depending on the color of your skin as well as where you
live. The more fair your skin, the less sun exposure you need.
recommended amount of vitamin D supplementation is 2000 - 10,000 IU per
day. The amount varies with each individual according to their individual
history of vitamin D deficiency. The good thing is there are no known
harmful effects of taking too much vitamin D.
D 3 is the active form of vitamin D, so it is the best form of supplementation.
You can also take cod liver oil supplements from a trusted source as well.
high in vitamin D are fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon.
Keep in mind that some of these fish may have high levels of PCB’s. So
make sure to get your fish from a reliable natural source.
juice and Milk do not naturally contain vitamin D. It must be fortified
with vitamin D. However, it’s not considered a good source since orange
juice is high in sugar and too many people have intolerance to dairy.
sunscreen lotion on your skin after you get the recommended amount of sun
exposure. Also, keep in mind that not all sun screen lotions are the
same. Try and avoid lotions with any known chemicals and paraben that
have been linked to causing cancer and other serious illnesses.
In conclusion vitamin D deficiency is
abundant in many population groups, for many different reasons. It is an
underlying cause of many conditions and has recently been linked with obesity and sports performance.
Vitamin D deficiency can be reduced with moderate exposure to sunshine, good
eating habits and supplements. As athletes these lifestyle choices will reward us with excellent sports performance and robust health, wellbeing and immune system.
Vitamin D and muscle weakness Vitamin D deficiency
Athletic performance and vitamin D Vitamin D Mayoclinic.com 2011