Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
Our body creates this in our skin with the help of sunlight. Winter is coming, so we might not get as much sun as we’d like. No need to worry, you can also get vitamin D within your diet Let's take a look...
The SACN (2016) recognises two major types – vitamin D2 and D3.
Red meat, egg yolks and oily fish are rich food sources of D3.
Wild mushrooms contain D2, and you may find fortified foods (cereals, milk etc) contain either or both.
From April to September, most vitamin D can be produced from our skin. Since it is now October, the dark nights are rolling in and getting our vitamin D from foods is essential. But why?
Why Vitamin D?
Vitamin D intake has been associated with better muscle and neuromuscular performance (involving the brain!). Importantly, low concentrations of vitamin D have been associated with poor musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) health. The recommendations given to us are made to help protect most of the population. vitamin D plays a part in managing calcium (bone health!) and phosphate in our bodies, too. Athletes may train indoors meaning you likely won’t get much sunlight, you may play a winter sport, or have darker skin, which makes it harder to produce vitamin D.
With this in mind, it’s good to start thinking about getting vitamin D in your diet. Consult a medical professional and/or dietitian, who may refer to blood tests to diagnose a deficiency, before you consider taking supplements unnecessarily. However, it is recommended we consider strategies such as taking a supplements or fortified foods to help us reach 10-micrograms of vitamin D per day - especially from October to April - as it is hard to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. New research has suggested “there is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health”. This related to adults aged 18 or over who were given supplements. Do not panic either way. You may well need a supplement. Just seek a qualified professional first! Current recommendations emphasise that dietary sources are important. Whether it’s scrambled egg, mackerel on toast, mushroom risotto, or a fortified smoothie – enjoy your dietary vitamin D!
SACN vitamin D and health report - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/537616/SACN_Vitamin_D_and_Health_report.pdf
Cannell, J. J., Hollis B. W., Sorenson M. B., Taft T. N., Anderson, J. J. (2009). Athletic performance and vitamin D. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 41 (5), 1102-1110.
Cannell, J. J, Hollis B. W., Zasloff, M., Heaney R. P. (2008). Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Expert Opin Pharmacother, 9:107-18
Ward K. A., Das G., Berry J .L., et al. (2009). Vitamin D status and muscle function in post-menarchal adolescent girls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab., 94 (2), 559-563.
Michael, E. A., Gee, A. O., Shindle, M., Warren, R. F. & Rodeo, S. (2013). The Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency in Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine (41), Issue 2, 461 – 464. 10.1177/0363546513475787
Bolland, M., Grey, A. & Avenell, A. (2018) Effects of vitamin D supplementation on musculoskeletal health: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and trial sequential analysis. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.