Vitamin D: How the supplement can support strength training

Posted by for Strong Women

No doubt you’ve heard about the effects vitamin D can have on your mental and physical health, but did you know it can help improve your strength too? 

Vitamin D plays a number of key roles in your body, from supporting a healthy immune and nervous system, to absorbing calcium and promoting healthy bone development. It also helps to regulate mood, and adequate vitamin D intake has been found to improve anxiety and depression in people struggling with the disorders. 

It’s pretty well known that vitamin D comes from sunlight. But right now, as time outdoor is limited, what can we do to make sure we’re getting enough? “We can get vitamin D from sources such as oily fish, red meat and some breakfast cereals. However, as it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, you may want to consider taking a supplement if you feel you are having less exposure to sunlight,” advises Boots Vitamins Expert Parminder Kaur.

While staying inside is of course the right thing to do to avoid catching and spreading the virus, the lack of sunshine might actually have a negative impact on your health. A study published in the Irish Medical Journal found that those who supplemented with vitamin D were less at risk of catching infection such as coronavirus. 

It’s also especially important to be keeping up your vitamin D levels if your at-home workout routine is still going strong. That’s because it has a big part to play in building muscle and potentially even on your progress in strength training. It is a crucial vitamin if you want to develop and maintain healthy muscles, and those lacking in vitamin D have been known to suffer from muscular pain. So it only makes sense that increasing your intake would also increase your strength. 

Multiple studies have found that supplementation of a specific form of the vitamin is highly effective at improving muscle strength. Here we explain just how vitamin D impacts strength, how to increase your intake, and how long it will take before you start seeing results.

How does vitamin D help with muscle growth? 

Vitamin D improves the quality and strengthens the fibres of the muscles. This encourages healthy muscular growth and repair, which is a necessity for strength trainers. However, not all vitamin D is created equal, and there is one particular form that is more effective for strength and recovery. 

Research has shown that vitamin D3 has a particularly positive impact on strength trainers. In fact, one study into the effects of vitamin D3 supplements on athletes saw their strength improve by 18.75%. And, while the results have varied somewhat, the positive impact of the vitamin has been found to be fairly consistent across studies

The effects of vitamin D on strength training
One study into the effects of vitamin D3 supplements on the strength of athletes saw an improvement of 18.75%.

How can I increase my intake of vitamin D?

Your body naturally makes vitamin D3 when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. From spring until the end of summer, you should be able to get your daily dose of vitamin D just from being outdoors. But when the weather turns, it’s not quite so easy.

Once you stop being able to get adequate vitamin D from the sunlight, you have to start paying more attention to diet. Foods like salmon, sardines and other oily fish, fortified dairy products and juices, egg yolks and some cereals are all great if you want to up your vitamin D intake.  

There are also supplements you can take. However, when you’re shopping around, make sure to avoid vitamin D2 supplements. This form of vitamin D is derived from vegetables, and has been found to be fairly useless at improving muscle strength. 

How long does it take for vitamin D supplements to work?

Studies have found that improved muscle strength is possible after just three months of taking vitamin D3 supplements. However, others have seen results in closer to six months, and results can vary depending on intake, your height and weight, and your exposure to the sun. 

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