Importance of Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is formed by the action of ultraviolet radiation from sunlight on a cholesterol derivative (7-dehydrocholesterol) in skin. A lot of people even in warm weather climates are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is metabolized in the liver and then in certain kidney cells, which results in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and that is what you see in blood work to determine if you have a Vitamin D deficiency. It’s major action is to stimulate the intestinal absorption of Calcium. If deficient in Vitamin D, you will have a decrease in plasma calcium which can lead to a lot of major health risks since calcium is one of the most important minerals essential for life.
Vitamin D3 plays a huge role in cell proliferation, differentiation, and growth along with phosphorus homeostasis. For athletes, a big concern with vitamin D deficiency is the effect it can have on your muscles. It can cause weakness and pain. Biopsies done on muscles with a deficiency showed atrophy of type II muscle fibers. Vitamin D also has roles in regulating blood pressure and diminishing risk of heart disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, Chron’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes have been linked with inadequate vitamin D status. It can also play a role in pancreatic B-cell protection and insulin secretion, people who have adequate vitamin D have better insulin sensitivity. Low vitamin D can also lead to bone density decrease and bone diseases such as Rickets.
How can we avoid being deficient in Vitamin D? First things first you need to get outside and be active in the sun. The best time to do this is around 10a.m. and 3p.m. This can be done by doing short duration walks throughout the day or doing some of your training outside. You can also supplement with Vitamin D from 400-800 IU’s if you are getting sufficient sunlight throughout the day. If not, I would recommend around 5,000 IU’s a day and some studies have used boluses of 50,000 IU’s to jump start the production in severely depleted people. There are a few animal based products that provide vitamin D such as beef liver, eggs, fatty fish like herring, tuna, sardines, and salmon.
Some practical take aways are when it is the winter months and the sun is not out as much or the conditions aren’t ideal for being outside, bump up your vitamin D to the upper thresholds. Look into getting a SAD lamp with at least 10,000 LUX and use that upon waking and possibly consider getting a membership to a tanning salon that uses the beds that help with vitamin D synthesis. During the other times of the year drop the vitamin D to 500-700 IU’s and go for a 10-15-minute walk between the hours of 7-10a.m. and 3-6p.m., try not to wear a hat or long sleeves.
To go the extra mile, you can couple your Vitamin D3 supplement with our Equilibrium Overall Wellness supplement to complete all the nutritional gaps you may have!