All About Vitamin D (and Its Effect on Exercise)

February 16, 2016

All About Vitamin D (and Its Effect on Exercise)

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Today brings you the first of the Newsbits Series!   If you're here, you believe that healthy cosmetics are important.  Likely, a good diet and exercise are priorities for you as well.  Here, we're going to explore what vitamin D is and some new scientific evidence about how to improve your cardio with the nutrient.

Let's review: vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that, within the body, it dissolves in fat rather than water.  Thus, if you take in much more than is recommended, the body holds onto vitamin D in your fat reserves rather than dispelling it out of your system through urine.  This means that extra can build up within you to unhealthy levels - yikes!  The moral of this story?  Don't "intentionally overdose" on vitamin D like you might do with vitamin C, a water soluble vitamin (another story for another time).

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is about 15 mcg/µg.  If you buy supplements, the package will let you know how many mcg/µg are in each pill.  In my personal experience, vitamin D pills are teensy little white fellas, super easy to swallow.

Now, vitamin D being fat soluble also means you have to take it in along with fats (unless you're getting it through sunshine as discussed later).  In order for the vitamin to be absorbed in the first place, it needs to be well dissolved in your stomach/intestines.  Be sure that you taking vitamin D supplement with buttered toast, oily salad dressing, a fatty meat... you get the idea.  Otherwise, the vitamin will be of no value to you.

When vitamin D does get diluted and then absorbed, the body converts it into a new chemical which is transferred to the kidneys.  The kidneys work it into still another form and it is this chemical which connects to the blood plasma and circulates throughout the body.

With that knowledge under our belts, it's time to talk about Mister Sun.  If you step out on a sunny day, with sunscreen-free, uncovered skin, your helpful little cells are going to start making the nutrient for themselves.  It's the UV rays in the sun, specifically, that trigger this special process.  UVB is the ray that takes the leading role.

An interesting this to note is that glass blocks UVB rays.  So all the long, long drives I spent with the sun on my hands, thinking, "As boring as this is, at least I'm getting vitamin D," were actually only boring.  You can't make vitamin D with the sunlight that comes through glass.  Ah well.

"Mikaela," you say now, "I don't want to spend money on supplements when I can get vitamin D for free.  But I'm worried - I don't want to overdose from the sunlight."  Good thought.  Essentially, you can't overdose!  Your beautiful body self regulates and keeps itself in a state of homeostasis.  It won't overdose itself through its own processes. 

On the other end of the spectrum though, you need to make sure you don't "underdose" if your only source is the sun.  A quick heuristic is to take between 5-30 minutes out in the sun with all limbs uncovered twice a week.  That'll get you a healthy amount of exposure.  Tack on 10 more minutes if it's winter.

Other than a pill or the sunshine, a good amount of vitamin D can be found in fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon, as well as fortified cereals, bread and vegan milks.

But what about this cardio improvement I mentioned?  Let's get right into the experiment.  An empirical study presented at the Society of Endocrinology took two randomly assigned groups of people and gave each an unnamed little while pill.  One group was given vitamin D supplements and the other was given placebo pills.  The goal was to see how taking the recommended dose of vitamin D daily for two weeks would impact working out.  

The researchers found that those taking the vitamin D ran 30% further in the same amount of time than those taking the placebo.   Plus, those taking vitamin D had lower, less stressed breathing patterns.  This data demonstrates that vitamin D is likely involved with improved exercise performance.  An exciting result!

We've looked over many aspects of vitamin D, how it works, how to get it and how much to get and we've seen how vitamin D intake can help with your workouts.  I hope you learned something!  

As for myself, I'm heading out for a walk in the sun.



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