Power through vitamin D

Richard Staudner
Richard Staudner

The Optimizer

It is now on everyone's lips, vitamin D, also called sun vitamin. And that's a good thing! Because your body needs this true power vitamin almost continuously in its work.

But let's take a closer look!

Actually, vitamins are substances that we cannot produce ourselves in the body. But this is not the case with vitamin D. It can be formed in our skin with the help of solar radiation. But why then are preparations sold everywhere and vitamin D is also recommended by official bodies and doctors?

The problem is that in our latitudes, we don't get enough sunlight to meet our own vitamin D needs.

And there are several reasons for that:

  • Too few sunny months in Austria
  • The skin covered by clothes too long
  • Too little time outdoors
  • Use too much sunscreen

If you have a very fair skin type, a daily sunbath of 10-15 minutes would be enough to cover our basic needs. However, you have to keep three things in mind: the thinner your skin, the more sun you have to get. Furthermore, the months of June to August provide the right amount of sunlight to cover your needs. Before and after that, the yield is relatively weak. And thirdly, the greatest effect of sunlight is around midday.

Ideally, you treat yourself to a walk directly in the sun and leave your face, arms and legs largely free of clothing, sunglasses and caps. Another positive effect is that you also support your circadian rhythm, i.e. your biological clock. This gives you a power boost and helps you sleep better at night.

But what can this vitamin actually do in detail?

Vitamin D is actually counted among the hormones and has particularly many functions. With its help, important substances are produced in our body and countless processes are triggered.

What should be of particular interest to you is that vitamin D can lift your mood. This is especially important in the winter months. In Austria, we affectionately call it winter blues or spring fatigue, our "little" down when the weather is dreary and it feels like it's always dark outside. This, of course, has a knock-on effect on our mood. The direct connection is not yet confirmed, but can be assumed among other things in the energy production of our body. Vitamin D also plays a role there. Of course, the fact that we don't exercise enough at this time of year and that our food choices are, shall we say, also very wintry, also contributes to this.

But let's take a look at what else the sun vitamin can do.

Vitamin D can also contribute to the protection of the cardiovascular system and help with cancer. However, there is not yet too much solid evidence on this, but some already show a very positive influence with long-term intake in this context (Cochrane Review).

Furthermore, vitamin D can support the development of the brain, even in an unborn baby in the womb.

It is also now known that this vitamin can reduce inflammation in the body and improve insulin sensitivity. I call that a real blessing in our age, because we are talking about two little-known but major threats to our health. Of course, all of this is very much dependent on our lifestyle.

Let's say one thing, our immune system loves vitamin D and its positive effect on our defenses. Which is important in the winter months, of course, but in times of Corona is put in a completely different light. Yes, an immune system strengthened by a healthy diet and regular exercise helps you fight all viruses, including Covid-19. In respiratory diseases, vitamin D helps especially well, studies show.

Recently, a large meta-analysis related to the relationship between performance and vitamin D was conducted, showing that improvements in muscle strength and reduced bone fractures are most evident in the elderly.

Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium and phosphate balance and thus in the strength of bones. Healthy bones into old age are therefore also dependent on the vitamin D level in your body. Apart from strength training and a balanced diet, of course.

Food? Let's take a look right now!

Unfortunately, one thing right away. We hardly get any vitamin D from our food. Some fatty sea fish, such as herring or salmon, contain small amounts of vitamin D. This also applies to avocados, cheese, eggs and liver.

Before you start stocking up on them, I have to stop you. While they are healthy, the amounts these foods provide are unfortunately too low to completely meet your needs, especially in the winter. At best, foods contribute just 20% to our vitamin D budget. This, of course, is one reason why 60% of the population is undersupplied, according to studies.

What about the effect in sports?

It is assumed that our power vitamin also has an effect on the function of our mitochondria. These are the power plants in our cells that are responsible for the production of energy. One scientific paper, for example, shows an improved running time to 2.4 km with an additional vitamin D supply.

Where there is much study, there are also many opinions. Some studies, for example, could not find any connection at all between vitamin D supplementation and performance. Of course, this has a lot to do with the study setting. But with over 20,000 studies online, it's not surprising that not everyone agrees.

With a deficiency of vitamin D, however, a drop in performance is definitely possible. Supplementation is therefore recommended, especially in the winter months.

Since exceeding the maximum amount can be dangerous, you should follow ÖGE recommendations and only take higher doses in conjunction with a blood count check and an experienced therapist.

How much vitamin D do you actually need?

Before supplementation, you should ideally do a check via blood work. There are reference values, but between the various competencies such as doctors, therapists and official body, there is no agreement in practice, where you should really land. In, or above the reference range. Below that, i.e. in deficit, is not good in any case.

As far as the dosage of a supplement is concerned, it is also still not entirely certain how much vitamin D a person really needs. In Austria, the recommended daily doses have been raised to 20µg (800 IU). With that, you should slide up from the deficit if you use it for a long time.

In fact, very young and old people, and especially athletes, seem to be deficient in this vitamin. For this reason, it actually makes sense to supplement vitamin D. Don't be tempted by the low price/performance ratio of vitamin D. Please remember, more is not more!

Try to soak up the sun as often as possible in winter, too, and get some outdoor exercise! Even if the January sun doesn't really help with vitamin D production. It activates and contributes to your well-being in any case.

Then the winter blues, becomes a winter samba!

Your Performance Coach

Richard Staudner


Richard Staudner

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