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Everything you need to know about Vitamin D

04th July 2016

Widely regarded as a ‘miracle supplement’ packed to the rafters with health benefits ranging from Alzheimer’s prevention to blood pressure regulation, Vitamin D has quickly become the go-to top-up for a new generation of fitness fanatics. The questions to ask with any supplement are what is it, why is it so popular, and what benefits will it have when it comes to your workout routine? LifestyleFitness.co.uk has looked into those very queries, so you don’t have to.

What is Vitamin D?

Put simply, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin or prohormone measured in nanograms per decilitre. Not so simple? Let’s put it into context. Best known for its effects on bone metabolism and ridding the world of Rickets disease, it has also been known to inhibit the growth of many cancers and reduce the threat of Alzheimer’s and dementia, among other common diseases. Most commonly, we absorb Vitamin D from UV from the sun.

What is perhaps less well-known are the huge benefits Vitamin D offers general fitness and workout routines, playing a huge role in neuromuscular functioning and protein synthesis. It absorbs calcium, among other things, and builds muscle strength. Indeed, people with low levels of Vitamin D suffer from lethargy and muscle wasting, and are likely to have fatty muscles that will decrease muscle mass and performance.

Why is it so popular?

It is estimated that a staggering 1 billion people have inadequate levels of Vitamin D in the world today, where it is particularly rampant in the northern hemisphere and in winter months, due to the obvious struggles in finding adequate sun exposure. Sun alone is not the answer however, as a 2015 study showed that 59% of girls between 16 and 22 in California, one of the sunniest climates in the Western world, had insufficient levels.

Currently, clinical Vitamin D levels are defined as follows:

  • deficient (<20 ng/mL)
  • insufficient (20 to 32 ng/mL)
  • sufficient (>32 ng/mL)

The fact is that the realities of modern life, coupled with the pollution of major cities skylines, inhibit many of us from sufficient sun exposure in our day to day lives. Given the fact that the self same 2015 study indicated that 64% of people in the Western world harboured inadequate levels of Vitamin D, it has become more and more important to seek a top-up supplement elsewhere.

What benefits will it have to my workout routine?

Studies have shown that people deficient in Vitamin D, no matter how active they are, can dramatically improve their athletic performance and increase their power output with a supplement designed to realign their levels. Adequate levels of Vitamin D can make it much easier to build muscle mass, and provides the benefactor with leaner, healthier muscles with reduced fat.

What’s more, research by Massey University and the University of Minnesota have uncovered the fact that Vitamin D supplements can reduce insulin, improve serotonin levels, enhance your immune system and control your appetite, all factors that often dramatically affect weight loss efforts and fitness pushes.