Vitamin D for Runners

cropped-cross-country_1.jpgWe all know the importance of receiving a proper supply of essential vitamins and minerals. But do runners already get enough Vitamin D? Spending time outdoors in the sun will generate a good supply of Vitamin D, as the sun’s rays automatically provide it–and most runners soak in extra time outside, especially long-distance ones.

But the answer is yes.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, “Research suggests vitamin D’s active role in immune function, protein synthesis, muscle function, inflammatory response, cellular growth and regulation of skeletal muscle… It is apparent that the athlete is at an equal risk for vitamin D insufficiency.”  A lack of Vitamin D can cause muscle weakness and influence an athlete’s performance.

The summer months help, as there is prolonged daylight. But especially as shorter days approach, it is important to be cognizant of how much sunlight your body receives. Think of your body as a plant–you need sun to survive.

Who is at risk of a lack of Vitamin D?

If you spend your time running early in the morning, late at night or always indoors, you need to supplement your diet with Vitamin D (over-the-counter vitamins work well). As winter approaches, it is a good idea to make it a habit of taking Vitamin D already. Also, if you are darker skinned, your body will not absorb the sun’s rays as well.

How much is enough?

An ideal level of Vitamin D is greater than 50 ng/ml for optimal performance in runners. Be sure to stay above 40 ng/ml because if you dip below this level, your body will move all of your Vitamin D to metabolic needs.

See Your Doctor

Have your doctor test for your Vitamin D levels and also talk to him or her if you take any medications. They may play a part in how much Vitamin D your body is able to digest.

With the proper amounts, you’ll see a marked improvement in your running abilities.