A recent research review published in the journal Physical Activity and Nutrition found that having healthy vitamin D levels correlated positively with athletic performance in endurance sports — among other benefits.
The researchers performed a systematic review of studies about vitamin D in athletes that assessed serum vitamin D levels, vitamin D and physical performance, vitamin D and musculoskeletal injuries, and practical guidelines for supplementation of vitamin D.
A number of studies found that a high proportion of athletes were deficient in the vitamin and that low levels had negative effects on muscle strength, power, and endurance. Athletes with low levels of vitamin D also appear to be at a greater risk for stress fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries and experience higher rates of inflammation after high-intensity exercise.
On the other hand, studies show that healthy levels of vitamin D are positively correlated with endurance performance and muscle strength. Several of the reviewed studies also associated increased levels of vitamin D with a lower rate of injuries and an overall improved performance in sports.
All of this data caused the authors of the review to conclude the following:
“Vitamin D deficiency must be treated by correcting the lifestyle to restore normal blood vitamin D levels, which is fundamental in maintaining or restoring the physical performance and musculoskeletal health of athletes.”
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin and produced in the body following 15-20 minutes of direct exposure to the sun. You can also absorb it through protein-rich foods, like egg yolk, fish, and dairy products. Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult in Canada due to our short summers and long winters, so many dietitians and doctors recommend both athletes and non-athletes take a supplement to support their needs. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D status, talk to your doctor about getting it tested, so they can provide safe recommendations for supplementation.
To read the full research report from Physical Activity and Nutrition, click here.