Sitting out on one of Marbella’s glorious beaches with hundreds of half naked sunbathers got me to thinking – how many of you really know the benefits of getting enough Vitamin D? Is it just another supplement to waste money on, or is it really worth taking? I’m going to go briefly into the what, why and how of vitamin D and explain to you why I think that it’s an absolute must have in your daily regime.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which, can be found in small amounts in foods such as salmon, mackerel and tuna as well as cheese and egg yolks. Although in reality in such small amounts that they cannot be relied on as an adequate source for most people.
Where can I get vitamin D?
When ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin it begins a series of processes which allow the body to synthesise Vitamin D. At this stage it is inert and the body is unable to use it. A few complicated things take place and some big words are involved but pretty quickly your body takes the vitamin D and turns it into two usable parts, calcidiol and calcitriol. Your body can then use these compounds for numerous processes.
What does vitamin D do?
- Manages the amount of calcium in your blood, bones and gut
- Maintains bone health
- Improves immune function
- Improves muscle function and strength
- Improves lean body mass
- Treatment of certain skin conditions
- Treatment of depression
- Prevention of metabolic disease
- Male reproductive health
- Female reproductive health and fertility
- Improves heart function and circulation reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improves respiratory function
- Aids proper brain development
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Vital in proper cellular communication
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and a condition called osteomalacia in adults both causing soft, thin and brittle bones. A lack of vitamin D has also been linked to some other conditions such as cancer, asthma, type-II diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s and type-I diabetes.
How much vitamin D do I need?
- First of all my best piece of advice is to get off your ass, get active and get outside whenever you can. Try to get at least 20-25 mins of sun and fresh air per day
- Eat plenty of fatty fish, salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel are popular choices plus you get a nice hit of omega 3s
- Supplemental vitamin D can fill any gaps left when you are unable to get outside and adjust your diet
- Eggs are also a great source of vitamin D, and a body builder’s favourite for decades
Get your bloods done regularly too. Check levels of everything you can – I think this is just good practice. Optimal levels of vitamin D are between 80-120 nmol/L and studies suggest taking approximately 5000iu per day supplementary is optimal. If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the sun then using the advice I’ve given above will help improve all aspects of your health and body composition no end.
If all else fails come and get sweaty with us at Ultimate Performance Marbella, Europe’s number one gym with 320 plus days of uninterrupted sunshine per year, outdoors training area, rooftop yoga and spin classes and amazingly equipped weight room and cardio suite.