The sport performance can be affected by many factors, including genetic and environmental elements. In the last few years, Vitamin D has been regarded as a limiting factor when there is a deficiency and as an enhancer when there is plenty of it.
A Vitamin D Deficit affects Athletes
A vitamin D deficiency can affect the bone-muscle system, which can lead to a higher risk of suffering injuries, breakage due to stress and muscle injuries.
But not only that, it can also hinder crucial features of the workout such as its quality, as well as the frequency and duration of the injuries or diseases. This can directly affect the sport performance.
A vitamin D deficiency can result in some health problems, since it plays an important role in bone health, the immune function and the physical performance
Risk of Injury due to a Lack of Vitamin D
Osteomalacia is a syndrome that involves a softening of the bones due to a loss of calcium salts. It is mainly due to a lack of vitamin D, which is why this deficiency has been related to an alteration in the bone metabolism.
However, apart from its effect on the bone system, a lack of vitamin D is also related to myopathy which causes muscle weakness and soreness mainly in the lower limbs. Consequently, this can increase the chances of falling and, therefore, suffering from injuries.
Myopathy related to osteomalacia caused by a vitamin D deficiency has been regarded as muscle weakness for many years.
Vitamin D to Improve the Sport Performance
In some studies, it has been observed that plenty of vitamin D in the body or vitamin D supplementation improved the muscle power.
This is why it also helps to improve the sport performance.
Vitamin D and Sunbathing
Most of the diets lack the amount of vitamin D that our body needs. There are several factors involved, such as the latitude, season, time of the day, melanin content, use of sunscreen, age and the clothes we wear.
We produce more vitamin D when we sunbathe that with the diet
However, some studies have observed that despite a high exposure to the sun, specially in certain countries, there was a vitamin D deficiency. This means that sunbathing does not ensure having proper vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D Increases the Muscle Mass
A lack of vitamin D can affect the in muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, its effects on the muscle tissue consist of improving the muscle protein anabolism, increasing the muscle mass and reducing the rate of protein breakdown.
Vitamin D also increases the size and amount of muscle fibers (fast twitch).
Interesting Fact: Better Performance during the Summer
The link between the highest physical performance and summer season are quite interesting, even when the physical conditioning is constant.
Many records have been achieved during summer competitions and many athletes reach their best peak during this time of the year.
This fact is not backed up with significant scientific evidence, but having proper vitamin D levels to improve the sport performance could be a valid explanation. Moreover, some studies have proven that the sport performance starts to drop when the vitamin D levels drop as well (at the beginning of autumn).
Many studies, particularly from the German literature from the 1950s, show that the ultraviolet light that produces vitamin D improves the athletic performance.
Vitamin D can improve the athletic performance of those athletes who suffer a vitamin D deficiency, since it prevents the loss of bone and muscle mass. Therefore, it improves the strength and muscle power while reducing the risk of falling and injuries caused by stress.
Check the Sources of Vitamin D.
- Angeline, M. E. , Gee, A. O., Shindle, M., Warren, R. F., Rodeo, S. A. (2013). The Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency in Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
- Hamilton, B. (2011). Vitamin D and Athletic Performance: The Potential Role of Muscle. Asian J Sports Med.
- Binkley, N., Novotny, R., Krueger, D., Kawahara, T., Daida, Y. G., Lensmeyer, G., Hollis, B. W., Drezner, M. K. (2007). Low vitamin D status despite abundant sun exposure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.
- Hernández, M. V., Peris, P., Monegal, A., Guañabens, N. (2004). Miopatía asociada al déficit de vitamina D. Revista española de reumatología.
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