Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is Vitamin D An X-Factor Nutrient for Health and Fitness? Yes…

A recent study found that vitamin D levels correlated strongly with physical strength and power among soccer players. What made this finding of particular note is that a nutrient that is typically associated with bone strength and immune-system support, is found to greatly benefit elite levels of muscle strength.

The study focused on pro soccer players in Greece. It specifically found that the players who had higher vitamin D levels during the season (from the sun, not supplements) had faster ten- and twenty-meter sprint times, better leaping ability, and higher VO2 max, which is a measure of endurance strength. They specifically measured squat jumps and counter-measure jumps for the leaping piece of the study.

The study indicated a "linear relationship" between tested D levels, and the speed and power measurements, meaning that the higher D test results were invariably associated with better sprinting and jumping ability. These are results that any Everyman in training can hang her hat on. Get your vitamin D levels up, preferably with moderate doses of full-body UVB rays, and supplements when that's not possible, such as living in the northeastern US during the winter.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has the effect of a seco-steroid hormone, similar to testosterone or cortisol. Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) are found in cells all throughout the body, including in muscles. The study authors stated that major muscle groups in the legs specifically benefit from better vitamin D profiles (thus providing the results they found for sprinting and jumping). In other words, vitamin D seems to have a greater benefit on leg power than upper-body strength.

Working out hard seems to lower vitamin D levels, due to "training stress," according to the study. Natural vitamin D levels went up during the off-season, when the players rested, but their power and strength dropped. This indicated that training is still the primary factor in strength and power, but an improved vitamin-D profile will give an athlete the edge, not to mention the injury-prevention factor.

Reference and link to study:

1 comment:

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