Vitamin d – sports performance and metabolism

Vitamin D is a secosteroid hormone that offers innumerable benefits to the skeletal and exoskeletal system. Having enough vitamin D in your system helps to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and even aid in the recovery process. It appears that the body stores vitamin D for use. However, many young, active individuals suffer from a vitamin D deficiency which puts them at an increased physical risk. Deficient individuals not only suffer from more frequent injuries, but the recovery period is often greatly extended. Also, research indicates that vitamin D might influence the body’s metabolism and an individual’s ability to lose weight.

Vitamin D enhances athletic performance

Vitamin D deficiency may limit an athlete’s physical performance. However, many researchers also theorize that vitamin D supplements may enhance performance. Increasing the levels of vitamin D appears to increase muscle function and performance. The increased muscle protein synthesis improves speed, jump height, strength, and exercise capacity. Also, fractures are less likely to occur. With the increased vitamin D, inflammation and pain are also reduced. To prevent fractures, it is suggested that you take 25(OH)D levels above 40 ng/mL. To gain musculoskeletal benefits you should focus on going at least 25(OH)D levels above 30 ng/mL.

Understanding the effects of vitamin D on muscles

Within your skeletal muscle tissue are special vitamin D3 receptors. These receptors show a marked improvement in strength after vitamin D supplementation. In a study undertaken by the Department of Clinical History at the University of Crete in Heraklion, Greece it was found that athletes who received Vitamin D supplements experienced improved jumping and sprinting abilities.

Muscle recovery and vitamin D

Vitamin D helps muscle cells proliferate and differentiate. The increased cellular reaction leads to rapid muscle regeneration after an injury. Supplementing with vitamin D improves strength recovery significantly. In a study published in the Permanente Journal, it was found that the supplement not only decreased the likelihood of an athlete sustaining an injury but increasing vitamin D after an injury also decreased recovery time. The study recommended that any athlete that suffers an injury should consider supplemental doses of 50,000 IU/wk. for 8 weeks during the recovery phase.

Does vitamin D help balance your hormones

Vitamin D plays a role in helping to balance your hormone levels. This is especially true for testosterone. Research undertaken by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical has revealed that overweight people tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. The exact cause of the lower levels is not exactly understood. Many health officials hypothesize that overweight people may consume less vitamin D rich foods. Other researchers say that individuals who are heavy may dress to cover up which causes them to absorb less vitamin D. Also, heavier individuals might require more vitamin D because of their increased size.

Vitamin D increased metabolism

In a study undertaken by the Division of Public Health Sciences at the  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, researchers found that providing vitamin D to overweight women who suffered deficiencies appeared to increase their metabolism and help them lose weight by as much as seven pounds during the course of the diet. However, vitamin D did not change any factors in test subjects who suffered no depletions. It appears that if you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency then increasing your intake may help you shed unwanted pounds.

How does vitamin D help you lose weight?

Vitamin D may prevent the formation of new fat cells in the body, according to the Mineral Bioavailability Laboratory at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA. It also may prevent the body from storing fat. One thing that is known for sure is that vitamin D often increases the levels of serotonin that plays a role in controlling your appetite and providing you with a full-feeling which spurs you to increase or reduce your caloric intake according to your hormonal needs. Also, individuals with higher levels of testosterone often experience greater fat loss and maintain weight loss better than others. The testosterone boosts your metabolism, helps you burn more calories, and prevents fat formation.

Should you supplement with vitamin D?

Most of us get a daily dose of vitamin D every time we step outside into the sun and we also attain it through our diet. However, if you live in a northern area then you might not get out in the sunlight as frequently as needed during the winter months. Ideally, you should receive at least 20 minutes of sun per day. If you want to increase your vitamin D sources through food then consider consuming egg yolks, yogurt, cereals, milk, and salmon. You can also take a vitamin D supplement each day. Currently, there are no guidelines for athletic supplements in place, but it is accepted that individuals who workout frequently should increase their levels to maintain their skeletal and muscle strength, prevent injuries, and help with recovery after an injury.


Major, G. C., Alarie, F., Doré, J., Phouttama, S., & Tremblay, A. (2007). Supplementation with calcium+ vitamin D enhances the beneficial effect of weight loss on plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations–. The American journal of clinical nutrition85(1), 54-59.

Zittermann, A., Frisch, S., Berthold, H. K., Götting, C., Kuhn, J., Kleesiek, K., … & Koerfer, R. (2009). Vitamin D supplementation enhances the beneficial effects of weight loss on cardiovascular disease risk markers–. The American journal of clinical nutrition89(5), 1321-1327.

Hamilton, B. (2011). Vitamin D and athletic performance: the potential role of muscle. Asian journal of sports medicine2(4), 211.