Vitamin D, athletic performance, and some new recommendations for supplementation

The research studies on Vitamin D have been coming fast and furious in the past several years, and they’re often followed by a translation of the findings or the new views for the general public. Thus the recent article in The New York Times, “Phys Ed: Can Vitamin D Improve Your Athletic Performance?” After surveying some intriguing evidence (including East Bloc athletic programs that apparently used Vitamin D as a performance enhancer!), this piece ends with a few generally useful comments and insights on the “sunshine vitamin” and its significance:

Concerned now about your Vitamin D status? You can learn your status with a simple blood test. An at-home version is available through the Web site of the Vitamin D Council. Be sure that any test checks the level of 25(OH)D in your blood. This level “should generally be above 50 nanograms per milliliter,” Larson-Meyer says.

If your levels are low, talk to your doctor about the best response. Sunlight is one easy, if controversial, fix. “Most dermatologists will still tell you that no amount of sun exposure is safe,” Johnson says.

But Larson-Meyer and other Vitamin D researchers aren’t so sure. “There’s no good, scientific evidence that five to thirty minutes of sunlight a few times a week is harmful,” she says.

Or try supplements. “1,000 IU a day and much more for people who are deficient” is probably close to ideal, Larson-Meyer says. This, by the way, is about double the current recommended daily allowance. Most experts anticipate that this allowance will be revised upward soon. Consult with your doctor before beginning supplements. Overdoses of Vitamin D are rare, but can occur.

See also the NYBC entries:

Vitamin D3 – 2500IU (this higher dose may be useful for people with a known deficiency)

Vitamin D3 – 400IU (this supplement is useful in matching the current standard recommendations)

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