When we first went into lockdown vitamin supplements were sold out everywhere. But even when we’re not staying inside because of a pandemic it can be difficult to know what vitamins you need. We asked our friends at PHD Performance Nutrition to explain what vitamin D is and how we can ensure we are getting enough while we’re still on lockdown and in the future when we’re training for events.
WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). That’s a lot of science jargon but what you really need to know is that vitamin D is one of many nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Vitamin D in particular helps to regulate the amounts of calcium and phosphate in our body and these minerals are what keep are bones and muscles healthy.
Research shows that a large percentage of the population is vitamin D deficient. This may be because there is only a very small amount of vitamin D obtained through our diet, (even fortified foods don’t contain enough vitamin D). Although we’re able to synthesise vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight because of our increasingly indoor lifestyle and the fact that many of us consciously avoid the sun we aren’t getting enough sun exposure for the body to synthesise vitamin D. It’s because of this that supplementing vitamin D3, the more biologically active form of vitamin D, is often advised to avoid deficiency – particularly during the winter months.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO SUPPLEMENTING VITAMIN D3?
There are lots of health benefits that come with supplementing vitamin D3. Vitamin D is vital for maintaining healthy bones and optimising muscle function (both of which are important for your general wellbeing but also key to training and overcoming obstacles on course). Taking vitamin D3 supplements has also been known to reduce your risk of infection by boosting immune function and supporting fat loss.
Research has also suggested that vitamin D could play an important role in regulating our moods and warding off anxiety and depression.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BE TAKING?
How much vitamin D you need depends on your starting point. It’s always best to get your vitamin D levels tested with your GP so you can supplement the appropriate amount. The current recommendations for vitamin D intake is often found to be insufficient and benefits of supplementation are seen in doses of 2000-5000IU (50mcg – 125mcg) per day. If you are deficient, you can take a corrective bolus dose of up to 300,000IU.
Your dosage also depends on how much sun you are exposed too. 10-30 minutes of sun exposure during spring and summer (early April till the end of September) with your arms and lower legs exposed can be enough to prevent you from being deficient. The amount of Vitamin D you synthesise can be affected by your skin pigmentation, therefore if you have darker skin you may need to spend more time in the sun to obtain sufficient vitamin D levels. Depending on the amount of sun you are exposed to and your skin pigmentation you may need to supplement in winter months or even all year round.
PhD’s Vitamin D3 capsules are the perfect addition to your daily routine. Take one capsule daily with a meal or fats for optimal absorption.