Vitamin D is under-consumed. And since people are spending less time outside, they’re not getting enough sunlight to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D. A major issue is that people don’t understand the major role that this single vitamin plays in person’s health and fitness.
The benefits of Vitamin D include:
- Stronger Bones. Your bones need Vitamin D to stimulate calcium in the bones. When you have enough Vitamin D, you’ll have stronger bones and enjoy healthier bones, too. When you’re suffering from deficiency, your body won’t be able to deposit calcium adequately, which can weaken your bones over time.
- Cardiovascular Protection. People that are deficient in this essential vitamin have been shown to be at a higher risk of suffering from heart failure, heart disease and high blood pressure. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve glycemic control and improve the elasticity of your arteries.
- Muscle Function Improvement. The Iranian Journal of Public Health reported that a deficiency in Vitamin D may cause muscle weakness and atrophy. The study found that over 70% of men between 20 and 29 were deficient in Vitamin D.
And you’ll also find reports that Vitamin D can lower the risk of diabetes and cancer, too. It’s a vitamin that has a plethora of health benefits. The reason for this vitamin being essential for muscle health is clear, too.
Vitamin D and Muscle Health
Neuromuscular function is regulated by Vitamin D, and this means that proper amounts of this vitamin are needed for protein synthesis. If you’re chugging protein shakes, you may not be getting the same benefits you could have if you have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Strength declines, weakness sets in and muscle wasting occurs when a person has Vitamin D levels below 30 nmol/l.
In terms of immune health, Vitamin D has been shown to have an impact on autoimmune disease development to some extent. While this may not have an impact on your muscles directly, it will make you suffer during training. This means you’ll lack energy, feel weak and might miss more workouts if you’re deficient in this vitamin.
There have been a few studies done on Vitamin D deficiency that show a lack of this vitamin can lead to fatty muscles. The researchers found that people with better Vitamin D levels had less fat infiltration in their muscles.
What does this even mean?
Well, when fat infiltrates your muscles, it will cause:
- Function impairment
- Power impairment
- Strength impairment
And for me, this means that everything I do in the gym is not producing the desired results.
Inadequate levels of Vitamin D are not helping you reach your fitness goals. There have also been studies that show Vitamin D is essential for:
- Mental sharpness. Deficiency leads to a person being forgetful and often mentally sluggish. People with higher levels of Vitamin D have been shown to have superior memory function. A simple blood test is all that you need to find out if you have a deficiency.
- Lean abs. Abdominal fat reduction has also been linked to Vitamin D. A four-month study found that people who drank orange juice fortified with Vitamin D had a significant reduction in abdominal fat after the study.
You’ll also benefit from a few other, less-important benefits, such as having stronger teeth and nicer hair.
How to Know If You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency
If you’re worried that you may be deficient in Vitamin D, you’ll need to know the signs and symptoms that are associated with deficiency. Many of them have been discussed in some form already, but we’ll mention them any way as a brief refresher:
- Stress fractures. If the body cannot deposit calcium accordingly, you’ll notice that you have more stress fractures and weaker bones.
- Mood swings. A person with mood swings may need a little sunlight in their lives. It’s been shown that the sun makes you happy, and the reason for this is that Vitamin D helps the body create serotonin. This is the body’s neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating your mood.
- Exercise is difficult. Your muscle fibers need Vitamin D to grow and develop. Muscle function and fitness levels are impacted with a deficiency. If your exercise is harder than normal, you may need to step out in the sun for a while.
- Higher fat levels. When you measure your fat levels and they seem higher, it may be due to a lack of Vitamin D.
Of course, you can also go to the doctor and have a blood test done. The blood test will tell you whether or not your deficient in Vitamin D. If you do have a deficiency, you may have to take supplements or make an effort to stay out in the sun more often.