When you think of building muscle, what comes to mind? Protein and carbs? Yep! But what about vitamin D?
Vitamin D is not just for strong teeth and bones. Emerging science is beginning to show that vitamin D also plays an important part in muscle function.
Previous studies have found that people with severe vitamin D deficiency had muscle weakness that was improved by vitamin D supplementation, and according to a recent analysis published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vitamin D supplementation actually increases muscle strength. Athletes training to improve strength, speed, and explosive power should be particularly concerned about their vitamin D status because falling short of needs has been shown to specifically effect “fast twitch” muscle fibers.
Muscles are made of two types of individual fibers: fast twitch fibers which control strength and speed, and slow twitch fibers which control endurance. Activities such as tennis requires short, powerful movements and bursts of energy and therefore rely greatly on fast twitch fibers. Reflecting this, elite marathoners or long-distance runners have a higher percentage of slow twitch fibers.
Every Athlete Should Supplement with Vitamin D
Athletes are always looking to gain a competitive edge, but over 50 percent of them fall short when it comes to nutrition – especially when it comes to micronutrients such as vitamin D.
Although the body makes its own vitamin D following sun exposure (the more bare skin, the more vitamin D produced), most athletes cannot rely on the sun to meet 100 percent of their daily vitamin D needs. For example, athletes who train indoors, or who run in the park in the early morning or evening hours, or who live in cooler regions of the country are very unlikely to obtain sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure alone. This lack of vitamin D synthesis from the sun is exacerbated even more during the winter season – even for outdoor tennis players – because not much skin is exposed to the sun.
That’s why it’s critical to your dietary intake of vitamin D. You can do so by eating foods like fish (the highest in vitamin D), pork, mushrooms, and dairy products. If you are vegan or intolerant to dairy, there are soy products including a variety of milks and yogurts from which to choose. And if you’re not a big fish eater, there are some amazing supplements out there in which one serving will provide you with 60 – 80 percent of your daily recommended vitamin D.
As a health and wellness coach, I talk to people every day about their current nutrition, and advise them on the best ways they can improve it. I’d love to help you too! Please contact me here, or through my Facebook page, and together we can get you looking and feeling your best!