Are you getting enough Vitamin D and how much is enough?
Is sun exposure to the skin solely sufficient for our bodies or do we actually require additional supplementation of Vitamin D3?
What is the difference?
The sunshine vitamin has been shown a considerable amount of attention in both the Medical Field and the Health and Fitness Industry due to its myriad of health benefits. Within Australia one in four adults are vitamin deficient (2012) and in America research has shown that three quarters of teenagers and adults were deficient in Vitamin D. (2009)
Worldwide it is reported 1 Billion people have a deficiency of this particular vitamin. (International Journal of Health Sciences 2010)
Vitamin D – What is it?
Firstly, it must be explained that Vitamin D is not theoretically a vitamin as such. Surprisingly, it is considered a Pro-hormone that controls calcium levels in the blood whilst playing an integral role in muscle strength, bone health, cognitive function and is paramount to overall physical well- being.
Vitamin D assists in encouraging calcium absorption within the body, such process beginning in the gut. In addition to its significant role in calcium regulation, Vitamin D is also of relevance regarding immunity, inflammation and the regulation of glucose. Vitamin D have also been found to support heart health attributed to its influence on blood pressure and cholesterol.
In relation to hypertrophy and overall performance in the gym, this vitamin should not be overlooked nor failed to consider given its potential performance enhancing properties.
It is commonly known to athletes and competitors involved in Body Building that a deficiency in Vitamin D can be correlative to atrophy and loss of strength. As such, to ensure one’s strength and performance are not unintentionally compromised, a regulated dose of Vitamin D is both highly regarded and recommended by the majority of those reputable within such an industry.
In my opinion, it is worthwhile knowing that Vitamin D is in fact found within the body in 2 main forms:
Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2.
*Vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol is due to sunlight exposure to the skin and also found in animal- sourced foods such as egg yolk and fish oil.
*Vitamin D2 otherwise known as Ergocalciferol is obtained by the ingestion of certain plant sources.
Vitamin D2 and D3 are by no means created equal!
It is true that we need both and each is effectively absorbed into the blood, however Vitamin D3 has been shown to be more efficient at raising blood levels of Calcifediol. If you are choosing between D2 and D3 as your supplement, Vitamin D3 should be considered as the optimal choice.
Research has shown that our bodies can produce anything upwards of 400IU’s of vitamin D from sun exposure of 3-8 mins yet to reach optimum levels of vitamin D this could mean spending hours each day in the sun. Depending on climate, season and skin type. This is not a realistic option for most.
Given it is also very difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of Vitamin D through whole foods such as egg yolks, salmon and cheese and then subsequent influence incorporating such foods can have on ones caloric intake provided one were to ingest such foods in amount necessary to drastically influence their vitamin D intake, it is no surprise as to why the supplementation of vitamin D is considered by most common, convenient and viable.
In research conducted by the American Diabetes Association (2016) it was recorded that a Vitamin D intake at breakfast time can in fact increase thermogenesis and fat oxidisation rates in subsequent meals and thus suggesting there is a direct metabolic action.
How much is enough?
To quote the Medical Journal of Australia:
- When sun exposure is minimal, vitamin D intake from dietary sources and supplementation of at least 600 IU (15 μg) per day for people aged ≤ 70 years and 800 IU (20 μg) per day for those aged > 70 years is recommended. People in high-risk groups may require higher doses.
The Take Home:
– Eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin D such as fish and eggs.
– Balance your lifestyle by spending some time in the sun.
– If you are taking a Vitamin D supplement, consider Vitamin D3
– Adhere to your own individualised protocols under the guidance of a suitable coach, taking into consideration the timing of such a vitamin for optimal results.