What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as it is produced in the body in response to the skin being exposed to sunlight. It is unique among vitamins because our produce it, whereas all the other vitamins are obtained from food. While you can get vitamin D from your diet, the quantities are much lower than those made in the skin.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble which means that it is transported and utilized by fat, and as such can be stored in the body.
Which foods provide Vitamin D?
Vitamin D occurs naturally in some foods including egg yolks and oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel. Many cereals, orange juice, milk and dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D. Mushrooms, especially those that have grown under UV light are high in Vitamin D.
Why Vitamin D is important for triathletes
Vitamin D is best known for its role in regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are essential for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy and avoiding the development of Osteoporosis.
Research has revealed that Vitamin D also plays a role in:
- Supporting the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system
- Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved immunity and reduced infection risk
- Reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and multiple sclerosis
- Potentially treating Covid-19
Vitamin D is important for triathletes as suboptimal levels are linked to increased risk of stress fractures, muscle weakness and inflammatory injury. Having personally suffered from two stress fractures in my hips, I’m keen to improve my bone health through ensuring I get enough Vitamin D.
Should we take supplements?
The only way to accurately diagnose a deficiency is to get a blood test. However, Vitamin D deficiency is quite common particularly during the winter months when we are exposed to less sunlight. The current lockdown restrictions mean that even less time is spent outdoors, especially us triathletes training indoors on the turbo!
Public Health England (PHE) and NICE have advised that nearly everyone in the UK should take a 10 mcg (400 IU) supplement of vitamin D in the autumn and winter months, as there is not enough sunlight at this time of year for sufficient production of vitamin D. I choose to take a higher dose as advised by my nutritionist.
You can buy vitamins online, at supermarkets or pharmacies in a range of dosages.
This post is sponsored by Live Well Nationwide.