The benefits of vitamin D, especially in delaying frailty, are enough to want to keep you away from deficiencies and reach your optimal daily intake.
We’ve all heard of vitamin D. A necessary building block for growing and maintaining healthy bones, it is the primary reason calcium can be absorbed by your body. While it isn’t found in many foods, vitamin D is certainly in many great multivitamins to avoid any unwanted deficiencies. While we all reach for the stars when it comes to our strength and fitness goals, vitamin D is one of those essential nutrients that we should not, and cannot, go without.
While the benefits of vitamin D can be great for a variety of daily bodily functions, one in particular has raised eyebrows as to the actual effectiveness of vitamin D. Studies have shown that a raised vitamin D intake can potentially delay the effects of frailty. Frailty strikes as we get older and older, but tackling this now before it has time to make your bones and joints its home can prove to be worthwhile in the long run.
Let’s dive into the “sunshine vitamin” and see just how vitamin D can benefit you when properly dosed and taken daily. As we all look to better ourselves and our overall health and fitness, these often neglected essential nutrients can be game changers when it comes to our supplementation routine.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is produced when sunlight hits your skin and triggers vitamin D synthesis. This is where it gets its nickname as the “sunshine vitamin”. Able to be obtained from sun exposure, foods, and supplements, vitamin D can be an easy to get and worthwhile essential nutrient to receive. As a necessary builder and maintainer of healthy bones, it is important to have for its ability to allow calcium to be absorbed by your body. Since calcium is the main component of strong bones, having enough vitamin D is crucial (1).
Where people run into trouble with vitamin D and a deficiency with it is during different times of the year, especially if not exposed to enough sunlight. Depending on where you live, this can seriously affect your ability to properly obtain enough vitamin D for your body. Not enough sun or eating the wrong foods can severely limit the amount of vitamin D you have leading to an unwanted deficiency.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Strengthens Bones & Muscles
Promoting the absorption of calcium, vitamin D allows for normal mineralization of your bones in order to prevent them from growing weak and brittle (2). Simply put, calcium can’t do its job without vitamin D. Through stronger bones, this influences your ability to strengthen your muscles to lift more and offer better stabilization in athletes, and prevent falls and unwanted pain as we age.
Support Immunity & Fight Inflammation
With properties to fight off bacteria and other unwanted viruses, vitamin D can lead to better immune health to keep you as healthy as possible, especially moving into these colder months. Vitamin D also helps activate your T cells which are vital for detecting and destroying any foreign pathogens that can strike and hurt your immune system (3). With a healthier immune system, your body is able to fight off inflammation and help regulate parts of your body to do so.
Suppress Appetite & Promote Weight Loss
Due to an appetite suppressing effect, vitamin D can aid in weight loss by curbing any unwanted cravings and snacking leading to a better chance at weight loss (4). By decreasing body fat and working to change your body composition, you are able to see that desired physique unfold.
Effects On Delaying Frailty
As we age, our risk of growing frail increases. That is just the natural process of aging. Frailty is defined by certain things like unexpected weight loss, weaker grip strength, lower levels of physical activity, and moving slower than we used to.
But studies have shown that vitamin D can delay the effects of frailty especially as we age (5). By working to strengthen our bones and muscles, as well as aid in immune support and inflammation, this essential nutrient can work wonders for us when it comes to keeping us moving efficiently and seeing great gains inside and out of the gym.
Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency
One of the main causes of a vitamin D deficiency is a lack of exposure to sunlight. As colder months move in and we are kept inside more and more, our ability to go outside and bask in the sunlight slowly starts to diminish.
If we don’t get enough vitamin D from food, then we really start to hurt our daily intake. Taking a really great multivitamin supplement and working to incorporate more vitamin D rich foods in our diet can help with this greatly so we don’t suffer from any unwanted deficiency.
Ideal Vitamin D Intake & Sources
In order to avoid a vitamin D deficiency, it is important to meet our daily intake of vitamin D. For people aged 19-70, getting around 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D is sufficient. For those ages 70 and up, it rises to around 800 IU a day (6). The conversion of international units to milligrams is 0.015mg for 600 IU and 0.019mg for 800 IU.
While a multivitamin supplement is always good to have in your dietary regimen, receiving all vital nutrients from whole foods is always preferred. Some good food sources packed with vitamin D include:
- Salmon & other fatty fish
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods (cow’s milk & soy milk, orange juice, oatmeal)
- Swiss cheese
Vitamin D is more than just a daily vitamin. It is essential for our overall growth in terms of bone strength and development, fighting off inflammation and promoting immune health, and aiding in weight loss. While it may seem easy to get vitamin D into our bodies, it’s more challenging than we may think.
Taking a multivitamin, seeking it from whole foods, and working on getting more sunlight are all ways to obtain this without forming a deficiency. As we age, our risk of growing more frail increases, but studies are promising as to the effects vitamin D has on that as well. Work to get vitamin D into your nutrition regimen and really see these benefits boost your training and overall health to new heights.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. “Vitamin D”. (source)
- Burt, Lauren A.; Bilington, Emma O.; Rose, Marianne S.; Raymond, Duncan A.; Hanley, David A.; Boyd, Steven K. (2019). “Effect of High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation on Volumetric Bone Density and Bone Strength: A Randomized Clinical Trial”. (source)
- Aranow, Cynthia (2011). “Vitamin D and the immune system”. (source)
- Thomson, Rebecca L. (2014). “The Impact of Vitamin D on Weight Loss”. (source)
- Halfon, Matthieu; Phan, Olivier; Teta, Daniel (2015). “Vitamin D: A Review on Its Effects on Muscle Strength the Risk of Fall, and Frailty”. (source)
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2010). “Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D”. (source)