Guest Post – Do you know your Vitamin D level?

Vitamin D: Having a backward turn in your training and can’t account for why? Getting multiple stress fractures? Feeling sluggish? Remember to look at your Vitamin D levels!

Vitamin D deficiency is common in athletes. For athletes presenting with stress fractures, musculoskeletal pain, and frequent illness, one should have a heightened awareness of the additional likely diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. Correction of this deficiency is completed by standardized and supervised oral supplementation protocols producing significant musculoskeletal sports health benefits.

Vitamin D is a naturally synthesised hormone historically associated with calcium homeostasis, muscle and bone health. Apart from bone disease and muscle weakness, deficiency in vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of developing all cancers. Vitamin D is important in runners as there is a strong correlation with low Vitamin D and stress fractures. 25(OH)D levels (Vitamin D) above 40 ng/mL are required for fracture prevention. Optimal musculoskeletal benefits occur at 25(OH)D levels above the current definition of sufficiency (> 30 ng/mL) with no reported sports health benefits above 50 ng/mL.

The primary source of Vitamin D is ultraviolet-B rays from sunlight with dietary sources accounting for very little. For anyone living in countries with poor sunlight exposure or anyone who works long hours and doesn’t see the light of day then you should be checking your Vitamin D levels . What this means is that irrespective of outdoor training, you may require supplementation. Ultraviolet radiation treatment is not a new concept: in 1938 Russian researchers reported a 7.4% improvement in 100m dash times of collegiate sprinters following UV treatment compared to 1.7% improvement of the control group’s times.

Vitamin D has been shown to also help with:
Faster reaction time
Far fewer colds/flues during the winter
Less sore/tired after a workout
Fewer micro-cracks and broken bones
Bones which do break heal much more quickly
Increased VO2 and exercise endurance

Rapid recovery following injury is vital for any athlete and 25(OH)D3 levels, through its direct regulation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), has been shown to increase the healing speed of skeletal muscles. The biggest gain from the use of vitamin D is by those who exercise less than 2 hours per day.

There is some really good research being produced to show the positive that Vitamin D has on an athletic performance. A good website to check out is www.vitamindwiki.com that shows all the latest research and information on Vitamin deficiency. Read up more on this really important and naturally occurring, performance enhancer that you may well be deficient in!

Written By Annette Chase – A physiotherapy colleague at Pure Sports Medicine on Threadneedle Street, London