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The Importance of Vitamin D for Endurance Athletes

  Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium from food and supplements.  To train and race optimally, an athlete should not have any nutrient deficiencies therefore, the function of Vitamin D is important as it relates to overall health, bone density, innate immunity, muscle wasting, and exercise-related inflammation and immunity. Stress fractures are quite prevalent in runners and yet so preventable. German research studies dating back to the 1950s show that athletes exposed to Vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light had improved athletic performance.  After intense exercise, endurance athletes experience inflammation due to elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Vitamin D reduces the production of these cytokines while increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, thereby speeding the recovery process between hard workouts. It is recommended to get regular, safe, twice-daily (5-30 minutes) exposure to sun between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Supplement with 1000 IU to 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 to maintain normal levels. For those living or competing in northern latitudes (north of Atlanta, GA) little to no vitamin D production will occur, so consumption of fortified foods and supplements is a necessity. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as wild salmon, tuna, and mackerel)  and high-quality fish liver oils, such as Nordic Naturals, are among the best sources. To find out how much Vitamin D you should be taking, whether through natural sun sources or supplementation, click here.  Your doctor can also order blood tests to check your Vitamin D levels. Submitted by: Terry Lucas Sources: Office of Dietary...
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