The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, the quality of sunlight is lessening, and kids are inside most days at school when the sun is out. Welcome to Fall/Winter in the Northeast, and the likelihood, without supplementation, sub-optimal levels of Vitamin deficiencies in Vitamin D will occur.
Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin that is hard to obtain directly from foods. The body typically gets vitamin D from the sun, as the sun’s UV rays, converts cholesterol into Vitamin D. Not getting adequate Sun and UV rays, lessens the amount of cholesterol converted reducing your Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, and is an essential micronutrient, meaning it is necessary for human survival. Outside of the sun, it naturally can be found in some fish, and the yolk of eggs. We also see Vitamin D in enriched dairy products.
Vitamin D receptors are found throughout the body, making this Vitamin more of a hormone in its wide range of associations, rather than a typical vitamin. Vitamin D has been associated with proper functioning of the nervous skeletal, immune, and muscular systems. It improves cognition, and is associated with reducing depression and seasonal affective disorder. It bolsters the immune system and has been associated with reducing risk of flu development, as well as reducing the risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It also has been found to increase bone health, as well as muscle repair and functioning. These latter associations are extremely important for young athletes involved with training, as prevention of any skeletal system defects from deficiency, and the need for optimal muscle repair after training is imperative. More importantly for people deficient in vitamin D may also experience increased testosterone levels after supplementation, enhancing natural muscle repair, and cognitive function (YES, even females have an optimal testosterone level for overall health and well being).
Very few supplements are as cheap as Vitamin D, as safe, and have enough benefits to make it worth taking, the only other one that comes to mind is Creatine. Recommended daily allowance guidelines are behind the research, so the following flow chart was developed by Owens, et al. (Vitamin D and the Athlete: Current Perspectives and New Challenges, Sports Med. 2018; 48(Suppl 1): 3–16.) and summarizes supplementation protocol in athletes. Basically, you should supplement with 2000-4000 IU’s of Vitamin D a day from a reputable company, i.e, Carlsons, Now Brands, Nordic Naturals.