An estimated 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Okay, I know what you’re thinking “how can so many people be deficient when you get vitamin D from the sun and other dietary sources?”
The truth is that even if one were to spend ample time in the sun, putting on sunscreen with a SPF of 15 results in a 99% decrease in absorption of vitamin D. Meanwhile, consuming dietary sources, such as juice and fatty fish, may seem to provide us with a significant amount of vitamin D, but our stomach or digestive system is only 50% efficient at absorbing vitamin D. Most of the vitamin’s nutrient value is lost in digestion.
Vitamin D is a major factor in assisting in growth and maintenance of bone as well as aiding in regulation of electrolytes, protein synthesis, and immune function. These vital functions are necessary for all individuals, especially elite and recreational athletes.
So now you may be wondering why is it so important to meet the daily-suggested amount? It is estimated that the body requires 600 international units or IU of vitamin D per day. An IU is used to measure fat soluble vitamins and to calculate the recommended intake of vitamins. Not meeting these standards can cause a deficiency in vitamin D which can be problematic in athletic populations. Vitamin D plays a significant role in bone health, immune function, and physical performance. Athletes need healthy bones and immune systems to support the demands placed onto their bodies. For older populations vitamin D has been shown to have significant effects on pain, balance, and fractures.
Here are 5 ways in which you can get more Vitamin D:
Evidence suggests that 11am until 3pm are the most effective time to absorb vitamin D, because of the sun's position in the sky. 10-15 minutes is long enough to receive benefits from the sun and short enough to not get burned or start a cascade for other harmful effects.
The sun is less likely to provide your daily vitamin D needs at higher altitudes, in the winter, or if you’re older or dark skinned (pigmentation blocks light). These people may need to spend closer to 20-25 minutes in the sun to fill their body with vitamin D.
2. Fatty Fish
Fish, such as salmon, trout, and tuna, contain high levels of vitamin D. The vitamin D found in these fish remains stable when heated.The fish can be boiled, baked, microwaved, or pan seared. However, vitamin D is oil soluble so frying the fish would decrease the likelihood of receiving the maximum benefits.
3. Fortified Milk
Almost all cow's milk (skim, 2%, and whole)has been fortified with vitamin D. When shopping for milk, read the labels to see if the product has added vitamin D. An easy way to do this is to check the label for the amount of vitamin D per serving.
4. Orange Juice
Not a dairy fan? Try fortified orange juice to get your daily amount. One serving of name brand orange juice has 25% vitamin D or about 100 IU. However, be careful of this option, as it can come with risks. Juices are high in sugar therefore the nutrition label should be read carefully. 1 cup of orange juice contains roughly 21g of sugar.
5. Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D supplements can give you a proper dose with one simple pill. Before spending money, check your supplements or multivitamins to see if they already contain vitamin D. Most calcium pills also contain ample amount of vitamin D. It is always beneficial to do research on what company makes the best and most efficient vitamins and supplements.
Vitamin D is a common deficiency that can easily be avoided and/or treated. Hopefully with the information in this article you can fully achieve the benefits of vitamin D by maintaining optimal levels.Tesa is new to blogging, but hopes to make a big impact with her vast knowledge of athletics and experience. Tesa recently earned her bachelor's degree at the Pennsylvania State University. While majoring in Athletic Training and minoring in psychology, she worked with various division one collegiate sports teams. Tesa is continuing her education by pursuing her Master's of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in sports pedagogy at The Louisiana State University. Tesa is a board certified Athletic Trainer and a Performance Enhancement Specialist. Outside of the training room, Tesa enjoys going on runs and working out for leisure.
Main Photo Credit and Third Photo Credit: Africa Studio/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Mikhail Starodubov/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Ami Mataraj/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: Sergio Stakhnyk/shutterstock.com