Often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is one that most people are currently not getting enough of in their day-to-day diet plan. Vitamin D will be produced naturally by the body any time you go out unprotected into direct sunlight. However, due to the risk of developing skin cancer, this is not recommended. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and dairy products, salmon, tuna, and cod liver oil, most of which people will not eat in high enough dosages to meet their daily needs. As such, it’s often recommended that supplementation is pursued. Why is this so important?
Let’s take a look at eight important reasons you need to consider increasing your vitamin D intake and being sure to monitor your status so it’s optimised to around 5000 International Units per day.
Improved Bone Health
When most people think of bone health, they tend to think of calcium. And while calcium is key for strong bones, it goes hand in hand with vitamin D. Those who are low in vitamin D status tend to report far greater occurrences of stress fractures and osteoporosis over their lifetime. Vitamin D works with calcium to increase total bone mineralisation. Without it, the calcium you are taking in is not nearly as effective. This is one reason why milk is often fortified with vitamin D. As it’s a natural source of calcium already, this provides you with the two bone-building nutrients in together.
Enhanced Muscle Strength Output
Strength training is a key part of maintaining a healthy and strong body and vitamin D may just help out with this as well. Vitamin D is essential to maintain strong and proper muscular contractions, so when intakes are low in the diet, it’s quite easy to find yourself feeling weaker during day-to-day activities, as well as in the gym.
Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Another way that vitamin D can help out is in lowering your risk-factor for diabetes. Studies, such as one published in the Endocrine Reviews noted that vitamin D may play a role in the level of insulin sensitivity in muscle tissues, which is then going to impact how your body handles glucose that’s being ingested. As insulin resistance is a hallmark trait of diabetes, the more insulin sensitive you are, the lower your risk of this condition will be.
By increasing insulin sensitivity in the muscle tissues, this can also increase performance as well by encouraging greater total muscle glycogen storage in the muscle cells after carbohydrates are consumed. Those who are suffering from insulin resistance may also find they fatigue more quickly during exercise due to the fact they are not storing as much muscle glycogen as they ideally should be, which would result in more usable energy for that exercise performance. If you want to take this benefit one step further, be sure to incorporate resistance training into your exercise plan, which also has the benefit of boosting the level of muscle glycogen you can store in the muscle tissues.
Body Composition Management
Body composition management, which is the promotion of lean body weight over fat mass is often thought to be primarily a factor of calorie intake and how you spread your macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) over the course of the day. Now we also know that certain nutrients may also be involved, vitamin D being one of them.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism noted that when subjects were deficient in vitamin D, there was a great infiltration of fat in the muscle tissue, increasing their overall body fat percentages. In contrast, those who consumed adequate amounts of vitamin D per day had learner body compositions and more quality muscle mass tissue. If you are looking to control your body weight, this is favorable news for vitamin D supplementation.
Lower Risk Factor For Cancer
Cancer is obviously one of the most life-threatening conditions one can contract. However, it is also one that we, to some degree, can wor