Vitamin D – The Importance of Getting Enough

by SwimSwam 1

February 18th, 2016 Lifestyle, Masters, Opinion

Ever wonder why almost all of us get sick during winter times? There is more research showing the links between the vitamin D we get from the sun and our overall immune system.

We’ve heard how Vitamin D is important for us and typically associate it with getting lots of sunlight, but there’s more to this beneficial nutrient than meets the eye. During the winter months, you are much less likely to be outdoors and as a result have a much higher chance of being deficient in vitamin D. Knowing that you’ll need to get your Vitamin D from food sources and supplements. Let’s learn more about why it’s an important part of a swimmer’s nutrition, and how to make sure you’re getting enough of it from your diet.

How does Vitamin D work?

Put simply, once Vitamin D has been ingested through food or produced in the skin, the liver and kidneys convert it to its active form, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or Vitamin D3. Long thought to be the “bone vitamin”, new data shows that every cell in our bodies has receptors for vitamin D. According to recent studies by Michael Holick, MD, a pioneer in Vitamin D research, much higher doses of this nutrient are needed for optimal functioning than previously recommended. What this means is that most Americans are likely deficient, presenting a host of problems like early onset diabetes, dementia, heart disease and of course bone loss.

As an athlete, why do I need Vitamin D?

More and more research is coming out about the importance of Vitamin D, especially in athletes. See the list below.

  • Increases your VO2 Max: A higher VO2 max is a very good thing for swimmers. Being that swimming is already a hypoxic sport, having a higher VO2 Max means that your body is more efficient in getting and delivering oxygen to your muscles thus enabling you to train harder.
  • Reduces Inflammation: After intense exercise, your body usually experiences higher levels of inflammation due to higher levels of cytokines (proteins that are important for cell signaling). Having enough Vitamin D reduces the production of cytokines while increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which in turn speeds your recovery process.
  • Improved Immune System: A study was released in 2009 by the Archives of Internal Medicine, showing that of 19 000 people, those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D had the highest chances of getting colds. This becomes even more important for athletes since you are already putting your body through a ton of stress, which in turn increases your chances of getting sick.
  • Bone Health: Vitamin D plays a very important role in protecting and strengthening your bones. Your body also requires it to help absorb calcium.

How do I know if I’m deficient?

During summer months, if you’re eating a balanced diet and are in the sun, chances are you are getting enough Vitamin D. But as we move into the colder months with shorter days, we are spending less time outdoors and risk becoming deficient. Also, studies show that swimmers are likely deficient in Vitamin D (oddly showing some links due to sunscreen blocking vitamin d3 production), Calcium, and Iron. Since it is imperative that you get the right nutrients to support healthy development and speedy recovery, make sure that you are getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D. If you are constantly training indoors, it is likely that you are deficient and not getting enough sunlight to synthesize this vitamin. Check with a health professional to find out your exact levels, but in the meantime, supplement your sun exposure with food.

What are good sources of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found in food sources such as fish, especially salmon and tuna, eggs, and can also be found in fortified cereals and milk. If you’re taking a vitamin, Vitamin D3 supplementation (cholecalciferol) is recommended over D2 supplementation (ergocalciferol), since D3 is used more effectively in the body. Make sure to get somewhere between 1,000 IU to 3,000 IU per day, depending on your body size and type. During the winter months, look at getting more Vitamin D3 than during summer when you are more likely to be training outdoors.

Ultimately, check with your health professional or nutrition coach to find out how much Vitamin D you need, based on your training goals and your body type. Whatever your needs are, you’ll find that integrating this cornerstone nutrient into your diet will give you improved health and a competitive edge!


About P2Life

P2Life is family owned, performance-based, nutritional supplement company that was designed for swimmers, by swimmers, to protect health and promote performance. P2Life takes great care in ensuring that every batch of their performance line is tested to be free of banned and illegal substances. Even though P2Life products were the preferred choice for over 40% of the USA Men’s Olympic Swim team during the London Olympics, it is not just for Olympians. It is also the preferred choice for the top high school, collegiate and masters swimmers across the globe.

P2Life was founded by Tim Shead, a Masters Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee and 42x World Record Holder, and co-founded by Michael Shead, who was a national water polo player. Tim’s expertise in swimming and years of experience and knowledge working with nutritional products, combined with Michael’s love of innovation and technical background, has enabled the P2Life team to create a technologically savvy company that is dedicated to furthering athletic potential. P2Life has a strong e-commerce platform, which allows them to spend less time and funds on retail stores, and dedicate more time to the swimming community.

A Proven Track Record:

  • Over 40% of the USA Men’s Olympic Swim Team were taking P2Life products during the London Olympics. The athletes brought back 12 medals, seven of which were gold.
  • P2Life Masters Swimmers have over 700 World Records to their name.
  • Michael Andrew, age group phenomenon, has been taking P2Life products since 2012. He now has over 75 NAG’s to his name.

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Ginde, A. A., Mansbach, J. M., Camargo, C. A., “Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Archive of Internal Medicine. 2009. Feb 23: 169(4): 384-390.
Courtesy of  P2Life, a SwimSwam ad partner.

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4 years ago

Can you please provide the references for the studies that show swimmers are likely deficient in vitamin D? I’m interested but having trouble finding them.