Vitamin D is the most underrated vitamin which generally people don’t look upon!
In India, we get a lot of sunlight year-round, but ironically still it’s deficient in the majority of us. Out of all the vitamin deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency is the most common one!
Yes, you heard it right. 3 out of 4 people are deficient in it. First, let’s have a quick view of this wonder micro-nutrient.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is a.k.a the SUNSHINE VITAMIN. Most essential one for the absorption of CALCIUM and other minerals.
Just like calcium, it is equally important and responsible for building and maintaining stronger bones & muscles. In fact, it can also gradually increase the bone density.
This is considered more of a HORMONE than a vitamin as mostly every cell and tissue in our body has receptors for it.
Influences many factors like bone and joint health, fractures and injuries, energy levels, immunity, body fat levels, mental ability i.e cognition, heart problems, hair fall, diabetes, delayed wound healing, hypertension, etc. and also YOUR MUSCLE HEALTH!
The major cause for the deficiency
The biggest cause for not getting enough of this vitamin is GETTING LESS OF SUNLIGHT. Yes, sunlight is the most abundant source of getting it. Hence the name sunshine vitamin.
People have mostly become sedentary staying busy working in their offices. Sadly when they come back home, there is no sun.
Plus, food sources have very negligible amounts of it which makes it the second big cause for having low vitamin d levels!
Though many of them have realized this and they have started taking steps to fulfill its requirements.
Best sources which provide Vit D
Vitamin D foods include fatty fishes like Salmon & Tuna, Dairy products (fortified ones), Mushrooms, Egg yolks, Cod Liver Oil, etc. They all can give you their dose naturally.
But the problem is, as mentioned in the above paragraph, very less of it comes from the diet and for getting the required amounts of this vitamin, you gotta have these food sources in enormous amounts. Even the food options are limited.
Plus, so much of adulteration also gives it a solid reason to add it up in a supplement form (mainly Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol).
If you are looking out for the natural ways to get it, exposure to the sun & having a sunbath/suntan once or twice a week would be the best option.
Those who already be out in the sun a lot, there is less for you to worry about.
Now you know the secret why old-school bodybuilders relied so much on sun those days. It wasn’t just for having that tan. D worked like an ANABOLIC for them. They felt a boost in their strength, performance, and endurance.
Just make sure you don’t apply any sun-blockers / sun-screen lotions before getting exposed to the sun. It can reduce the synthesize of vitamin d up to 95%.
In a nutshell, SUNLIGHT & Supplementation are the only two best considerable sources giving you that desired D!
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Its deficiency is the root cause of many of your problems & diseases. Numerous health hazards have been linked to it. Symptoms of vitamin d deficiency include:
- Bone problems like Osteoporosis, Rickets, Arthritis, etc.
- Inflammation & pain in bones & joints. They make a creaking sound
- Obesity / Higher body fat levels
- Lack of energy most of the times / Low energy levels
- Hair Fall
- Excessive Sweating
- Delayed Wound Healing – Yes, it doesn’t only happen with the diabetics but also with those who are low on this vitamin
- Lack of Mental Clarity (Bad cognitive health)
- Depression etc.
But let’s rather focus on the positives than negatives and how fulfilling the deficiency of this vitamin can actually
BOOST your progress at the gym!
Vitamin D benefits
Its benefits are not just limited to health. Apart from having numerous health benefits, vitamin d and its supplementation have phenomenal benefits when it comes to fitness & bodybuilding.
As per the topic of this article, let us just stick to its benefits from an athlete/bodybuilder perspective.
How fixing vitamin d deficiency can up your game at the gym providing you better gains? That too GAINS in the overall results, not just muscle gain.
1) Increases Strength & Performance:
Numerous studies have shown positive effects of vitamin d supplementation on skeletal muscle, strength, and performance. (1) (2)
A meta-analysis also concluded that vitamin d3 in combination with resistance training had significant strength gains in older adults. (3)
Also, D3 supplementation resulted in increased energy levels dealing with low energy issues & fatigue.
2) Better Fat Loss:
Recent studies of 2018 & 2019 showed that Vitamin D + Calorie restricted weight loss diet significantly decreased more weight, waist & hips circumference, and body fat levels. It can surely accelerate your progress. (4) (5)
Though spot reduction isn’t possible, it had the greatest impact on belly fat resulting in more fat burn, especially in the abdominal area.
It one of the responsible factors for regulating your metabolism.
Vitamin D can also reduce the formation of new fat cells in the body helping you in maintaining your weight.
Struggling to keep your waistline in check? Better get your vitamin d levels tested!
3) Increases Recovery Time:
As I earlier said that our majority of the body cells and tissues have receptors for Vit D.
Curing its deficiency can increase your recovery ability and also help you to pack on more muscles.
Recovery is the time period where you make gains. Better the recovery, better the results!
You will definitely feel less muscle soreness after fixing low levels of it.
4) Prevents Injuries:
As it strengthens your bone & joint health, it plays a vital role in minimizing injuries and fractures.
An INJURY would surely be a nightmare for you and your goals.
5) Preserves Muscle Mass:
Prevents muscle loss which is a.k.a muscle atrophy. Low levels of it can be detrimental to the muscles.
6) Increases Immunity:
Immunity is an important factor that lets you continue making those gains at the gym!
Staying sick can have a major setback ruining all your hard work & efforts.
Fixing its inadequacy will keep you away from diseases and illness.
7) Decreases Inflammation & Stress Hormone:
Inflammation & Stress both kill your gains!
This will aid the stress levels which are known to influence your hunger hormones, body fat storage, muscle mass, etc. and also promote stress-induced water retention.
It helps in dealing with over-eating issues too.
8) Mood Elevator:
Vit D is linked to cognition i.e mental health. Good mood and mental health are also very vital to keep you motivated and consistent at the gym.
It increases the serotonin in the brain giving you a better MOOD and better sleep at night.
In fact, it is also strongly believed that “supplementation of vitamin d increases the TESTOSTERONE levels”. They say that it can cure low-levels of testosterone.
But a recent trial conducted in 2018 came to a conclusion that its supplementation had no effect on the T-levels of healthy men who were deficient in it. (6)
*How to know whether you are deficient in Vit D? – For knowing that you will need to get your blood test done.
*Nominal Range – 20-50ng/mL is considered normal and healthy.
*Supplementation Dosages – Your doctor may prescribe it depending upon the readings.
Usually 1000-5000IUs a day is safe to go with. Overdosing and toxicity are rare. People even consume 60,000 IU once a week safely till the deficiency is cured.
*How & When to consume – As it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is preferable to consume it along with some fats/fatty meals for its best absorption. You can consume it during any time of the day.
*Which one to buy – Many options like capsules, tablets, chewable tabs, granules, etc. are available. You can buy any of those from a medical store instead of buying it from a supplement store & SAVE YOUR MONEY!
Also check out this MONEY SAVER article: 4 Bodybuilding Supplements which you DO NOT NEED!
- Vitamin D Benefits – Skeletal Muscle and Athletic Performance
- Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D
- Effect of Vitamin D3 combined with Resistance Training
- Vitamin D & Weight Loss
- Supplementation Effect with Weight Loss diet on Meta-Inflammation and Fat Mass
- Effect on Androgens in Men with Low Testosterone Levels