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Should athletes take extra vitamin D?

Yes, consider vitamin D supplementation during winter months when exposure to sunlight is limited to prevent and avoid its deficiency.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 31-10-2023
Five Team Jumbo-Visma riders riding in winter conditions

Why should I consider to take vitamin D?

  1. Risk of deficiency: Athletes who live at northern latitudes or who train primarily indoors throughout the year are at risk for sub optimal vitamin D levels, especially during winter months. Also, getting enough vitamin D from regular foods can be tough because it's only found in a very limited number of products.
  2. Bone health: Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization. Inadequate vitamin D levels may lead to reduced bone density and an increased risks for stress fractures.
  3. Muscle function: Vitamin D plays a role in muscle function, growth and strength. Suboptimal vitamin D levels might lead to a decreased power output and lower muscle mass, which can affect performance.
  4. Immune function: Vitamin D plays a role in immune function. Maintaining adequate levels helps support the immune system, which may reduce the risk of infections and illnesses that can interfere with training and competition.

How do I get my vitamin D on point?

Your skin synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to UV light. Aim for 10-30 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week, depending on your skin tone and sun strength, to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. In northern latitudes, consider a low-dose vitamin D3 supplement during winter, typically 25-100 µg/day. Consult a healthcare professional if you are not sure what to do. Especially, if you are a professional athlete or if you require higher doses due to deficiency as excessive intake can be toxic.

Natural food sources with vitamin D:

Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, nowadays many foods, such as dairy, cereals, juices, and margarine, are fortified with it. Check product labels for added vitamin D.

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