Vitamin D is actually a hormone that performs many important functions in the body. In addition to its well known role in building bone, vitamin D may also protect us from many autoimmune conditions and certain cancers. With food sources of vitamin D being very limited, we are actually wired to produce this hormone from sunlight. Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure via your arms and legs three times weekly can increase blood vitamin D levels.
However, dermatologists recommend that you always wear sunscreen when outdoors- a cancer protecting strategy that effectively blocks vitamin D production. It is recommended that you take a daily vitamin D supplement, but how much you need depends on your current vitamin D blood levels. Your physician can check your blood vitamin D levels. For men and women aged 19 to 50 yr, the recommended daily amount is 600 IU, and 800 IU for over age 50 yr. Many multivitamins contain 800 to 1000 IU. However, you may require a higher therapeutic dose to raise blood vitamin D levels to normal. Your physician or dietitian can recommend the appropriate supplement amount. After taking a higher dose for several weeks to months, your levels vitamin D levels can be rechecked and a maintenance dose can be recommended.
Monique Ryan is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics with over 25 years of experience helping active people optimize their nutrition and body composition. Contact us at 847-864-8689 to schedule your consult. Ryan has worked with elite athletes in soccer, football, basketball, triathlon, cycling, and mountain biking.
She is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd edition.