Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin for athletes, but why exactly? And, as an athlete, what is your daily vitamin D requirement? This blog tells you all about how vitamin D can affect your sports performance and when it is interesting to take extra vitamin D.
Why is vitamin D important for athletes?
As an athlete, you demand a lot from your body. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist or weightlifter: your bones and muscles are put to the test all the time. Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping your bones and muscles strong. That’s why there’s a lot of focus on this vitamin in the sporting world. Vitamin D helps to keep your immune system functioning and healthy. That’s why vitamin D is also an extremely important vitamin for you as an athlete!
Vitamin D – the summer vitamin
The summer months are a wonderful time. You can go outside a lot in fantastic weather, take a seat at a cafe terrace, or maybe even go on holiday. But the sun-filled summer days also have another advantage: when your skin is exposed to sunlight, your body actually produces vitamin D itself. You can also obtain this vitamin from food, but this often isn’t enough. The best sources of vitamin D are oily fish and eggs. Certain products also contain added vitamin D, such as margarine, low-fat spread, and some breakfast cereals.
Autumn and winter
In the autumn and winter months it’s somewhat more difficult for your body to produce enough vitamin D. The days are shorter and the sun doesn’t shine so much. Moreover, the colder weather means you’re outside less and that you wear more clothing. This means your skin is exposed to considerably less sunlight in these months and your body then produces less vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency in these months is quite common in the Netherlands.
A recent research study showed that as many as 70% of Dutch top athletes have lower vitamin D levels in the winter months than are optimal for an athlete (1).
Are you an athlete and do you need a vitamin D supplement?
A supplement is the ideal solution to ensure that you consume enough vitamin D during the cold autumn and winter months. Using a supplement is an easy way for you, as an athlete, to get a good dose of vitamin D every day. It is particularly recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement between September and April.
If your skin colour is darker, you produce less vitamin D from sunlight than someone with a lighter skin colour. If this is you, you could decide to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.
How much vitamin D do you need?
In general, a daily dose of 400-600 IU is sufficient to maintain good vitamin D levels throughout autumn and winter.
If blood tests have shown that you have a vitamin D deficiency, you can take a high-dose supplement. In such cases it is recommended that you take a dose of 2000-4000 IU. If you have high needs, a high-dose supplement can also be suitable. It is, however, recommended that you check your blood levels.
You should also make sure you take a supplement that contains vitamin D3. This is actually the active form of vitamin D, in contrast to the vitamin D2 form.
Option 1: Go outside in the sunshine and use Virtuoos vitamin D3
Option 2: Bring the sunshine indoors and use Virtuoos vitamin D3
We have two different vitamin D3 products in our range at Virtuoos. D3-600 IU Gold is ideal to maintain good vitamin D levels and D3-3000 IU Gold can be used if you have a deficiency or increased need.
- Backx, E. M. P., Tieland, M., Maase, K., Kies, A. K., Mensink, M., van Loon, L. J. C., & de Groot, L. C. P. G. M. (2016). The impact of 1-year vitamin D supplementation on vitamin D status in athletes: a dose–response study. European journal of clinical nutrition, 70(9), 1009-1014.