Hey, are you looking to optimize your workout results? Then you are on the right page!

As you probably already know, there are a lot of vitamins that you can take to supplement your fitness journey. You check them out here, but our focus on this page is the bone and muscle healing benefits of a certain vitamin – Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is both a nutrient delivered from select dietary sources and a hormone our bodies create. Scientifically referred to as “calciferol”, Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by our skin naturally when directly exposed to sunlight.

In more technical terms, Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble steroid subclass which is responsible for the increase in the intestinal absorption of magnesium, calcium and phosphate. In human bodies, the most prominent compounds in this group are Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, and Vitamin D3, the cholecalciferol.

Which is better: Vitamin D2 or D3?

When deciding to supplement your fitness and wellness journey, you can choose from a wide range that would definitely help you achieve your fitness goals. You can read about the basics of supplementation here.

With Vitamin D in particular, you will have to choose which compound to take since Vitamin D supplements are manufactured separately. Studies have already been conducted and have differentiated the benefits of the two Vitamin Ds to our bodies.

Ergocalciferol or Vitamin D2 is made from plant sources and can be found in fortified foods and some other supplements. Cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3 on the other hand is naturally produced in our bodies and can be found in animal-based food sources. On their effect on blood levels, an analysis of randomized controlled trials found that Vitamin D3 supplements have more tendency to raise blood concentrations of the vitamin and sustained it longer than Vitamin D2.

Even some experts have preferred Vitamin D3 because of its nature to be naturally produced in our bodies and can be easily found in some food sources.

Sources of Vitamin D

Sources of Vitamin D3

In maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamins, it is always effective to slowly switch into eating vegetables. To know more about it, you can check this article for a list of vegetables that can help you optimize your workouts. And if you decide to go vegan, here’s your guide.

The food sources for Vitamin D3 are a combination of plant and animal-based food groups. Here’s a list you can include in your grocery shopping, together with their indicated micrograms (mcg) per serving, International Units (IU) per serving, and their daily value (DV).

  1. Beef, ground, 90% lean, broiled, 3 ounces – 0 mcg, 1.7 IU, 0% DV
  2. Cheese, cheddar, 1.5 ounce – 0.4 mcg, 17 IU, 2% DV
  3. Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces – 0.1 mcg, 4 IU, 1% DV
  4. Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon – 34.0 mcg, 1,360 IU, 170% DV
  5. Egg (Yolk), 1 large – 1.1 mcg, 44 IU, 6% DV
  6. Liver, beef, braised, 3 ounces – 1.0 mcg, 42 IU, 5% DV
  7. Milk, 2% milkfat, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup – 2.9 mcg, 120 IU, 15% DV
  8. Mushrooms, portabella, raw, diced, ½ cup – 0.1 mcg, 4 IU, 1% DV
  9. Mushrooms, white, raw, sliced, exposed to UV light, ½ cup – 9.2 mcg, 366 IU, 46% DV
  10. Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 1 serving – 2.0 mcg, 80 IU, 10% DV
  11. Sardines (Atlantic), canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines – 1.2 mcg, 46 IU, 6% DV
  12. Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces – 14.2 mcg, 570 IU, 71% DV
  13.  Soy, almond, and oat milks, vitamin D fortified, various brands, 1 cup – 2.5-3.6 mcg, 100-144 IU, 13-18% DV
  14. Trout (rainbow), farmed, cooked, 3 ounces – 16.2 mcg, 645 IU, 81% DV
  15. Tuna fish (light), canned in water, drained, 3 ounces – 1.0 mcg, 40 IU, 5% DV
Food Sources of Vitamin D

Ultraviolet Rays

Most people, particularly those living in tropical countries, meet at least some of their daily Vitamin D needs in the simplest way – by exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate the uncovered skin and cater to what is termed as the “Vitamin D synthesis”. Some experts suggest that by doing the following, Vitamin D synthesis can effectively take place.

  1. Exposure to sunlight for approximately 5-30 minutes daily or at least bi-weekly
  2. Exposure to happen between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM
  3. Exposure of the face, hands, arms and legs without sunscreen

However, there are factors that have the ability to prevent the Vitamin D synthesis.

  1. Sunshine exposure through glass doors does not produce Vitamin D
  2. Rainy season and cloud cover
  3. High skin melanin content
  4. Old age
  5. Sunscreen

In our hopes of meeting our daily vitamin needs naturally through sunlight exposure, we just have to be wary in resorting to prolonged sunlight exposure and UV radiation through the use tanning beds.  UV radiation is a known carcinogen and it can cause skin cancer. If you are in the mood to lay on a beach somewhere and tan for more than 30 minutes, make sure to apply sunscreen.

Vitamin D Health Benefits

 Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D, like some other vitamins, are essential to our health. Here is a list of the vitamin’s benefits that we can take advantage of.

  1. It promotes stronger bones. Calcium may be the principal player when it comes to bone health but Vitamin D acts as a strong stimulator and therefore responsible for Calcium deposition in our bones – making them healthier and stronger. Without Vitamin D, our body will slowly stop the deposition process which in turn will make our bones weak and at high fracture risk.
  2. It gives protection from cardiovascular disease. Some studies reveal that Vitamin D is an agent in lowering our blood pressure. It also improves the elasticity of our arteries (termed as “vascular compliance”), and glycemic control. Vitamin D can literally save our hearts!
  3. It decreases risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes, if not controlled and taken care of, can lead to some long-term complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, vision loss and eye damage, and kidney failure. Studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin D improve insulin sensitivity, beta-cell function, and whole-body inflammation.
  4. It reduces cancer risk. Studies show that sufficient Vitamin D levels may significantly reduce the risk of adults having prostate, colon, ovarian and breast cancer types. Vitamin D is said to be one of the most potent inhibitors of cancel-cell growth and reduces its risk by increasing the level of cell differentiation and calcium absorption.
  5. It boosts weight loss. Research results have shown that people taking Vitamin D and Calcium supplement daily were able to lose more weight. Scientists have suggested that the extra Vitamin D and Calcium had an appetite-suppressing effect.

Effects on Bodybuilding

Vitamin D is an effective and powerful agent in muscle recovery. Why do we need to prioritize muscle recovery in our fitness journey? This article will give you the answers you need.

A study conducted in Liverpool John Moores University have found that a six-weeks’ worth of Vitamin D supplementation (4000 IU daily) have greatly improved muscle recovery in the following days after tough workouts.

Another study from Central Washington University suggests that Vitamin D supplementation in people with low Vitamin D level may improve muscle strength, believed to be caused by the increase in the size and amount of muscle fibers associated with the supplementation. The study also notes that various researchers have found that Vitamin D had a significant effect in muscle pain and weakness.

Effects and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

What’s next?

Knowing that we can take advantage of both the food sources and supplementation to maintain our body’s daily need for Vitamin D is a blessing. We might be busy going on our daily routines like work and other responsibilities that we just spend less time knowing how we can really optimize the little time we are able to spend for our fitness goals. It is very calming to realize that a lot of vitamins are there to back us up.

We might be reading this article for the sole reason of knowing what Vitamin D can offer us in terms of bodybuilding, but isn’t it refreshing to know that it can do more than that?

What we can do moving forward is to plan our days ahead and making sure we have time to expose our skin to the sun, include in our grocery list the food sources of Vitamin D, and maybe start supplementing if we are working out in the gym often. Not only will Vitamin D help us achieve our goal physique because of its weight loss and muscle recovery benefits, but the vitamin will also help us maintain a strong and healthy body inside out.

What are you waiting for? Go shop for the best Vitamin D3 supplement online and start cooking (or maybe ordering) recipes that are rich in Vitamin D! After all, we only have one body – all we can do is to love the body we’re in make sure that it is taken care of.

Resources:

Vitamin D: The Health Benefits And Immunity Support (bodybuilding.com)

Vitamin D and the Athlete: Risks, Recommendations, and Benefits (nih.gov)

Top 5 Benefits Of Vitamin D (bodybuilding.com)

3 Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D (healthline.com)

Vitamin D – Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)

Vitamin D | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Vitamin D – Wikipedia