Over 3000 genes are responsive to vitamin D; among them are those affecting muscle protein synthesis, muscle strength, muscle size, reaction time, balance, coordination, endurance, inflammation, and immunity. Vitamin D also plays a significant role in bone health, with conditions such as rickets, fractures, and osteoporosis directly related to vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with musculoskeletal side effects such as generalized pain, myopathy, weakness, hypotonia, and gait abnormalities. Therefore, it makes sense that vitamin D plays an essential role for athletes, who put a high demand on their musculoskeletal system on a daily basis.
Similar to our Disease Incidence Prevention chart, the table below, adapted from a paper “Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D” by Shuler et al., illustrates the impact of different levels of vitamin D on multiple aspects of the musculoskeletal system. Up to 99% of rickets cases can be prevented at levels of 20 ng/ml, however, additional benefits for bone and muscle health can be seen with higher vitamin D levels. Studies have also shown that maintaining a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/ml resulted in decreased risk of bone fracture and stress fracture. Fast-twitch muscle fibers have been shown to be especially sensitive to vitamin D levels, which are important for burst activities and fall avoidance. Overall, cumulative research has shown that peak neuromuscular performance may occur with a vitamin D level of at least 50 ng/ml.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of athletes have been found to have levels well below 50 ng/ml, stressing the importance of testing and supplementation to achieve and maintain a vitamin D level supportive of sports health. A previous post highlights the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among certain athletes.
Next week we will cover the role omega-3s play in sports health… stay tuned!
Is your vitamin D level supportive of musculoskeletal health?
Make sure you know your vitamin D level, and take steps to keep it within a target of 40-60 ng/ml or 100-150 nmol/L! Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Visit the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your level can be improved.
Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!
How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?
To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created an online tracking system called myData-myAnswers. For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details. This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!