One of the simplest things you can do for a lean body composition and peak health is to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D.
Over and over again, research shows that if you are deficient in vitamin D, you will be more likely to be overweight, have less muscle mass, and be at higher risk of a long list of diseases.
In the hope of convincing you to make sure your vitamin D status is optimal, here are five things you should know about vitamin D to be lean, strong, and healthy:
#1: Vitamin D is a key player in achieving optimal body composition:
* It’s essential for the maintenance of muscle and lean body mass because muscle tissue is a target organ for vitamin D.
* It promotes a lean body fat percentage by preventing fat infiltration into muscle, supporting metabolic rate, and aiding hormone balance.
* It’s necessary for strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis and bone fractures by improving absorption of other nutrients such as calcium that are involved in bone development.
#2: Vitamin D levels are associated with muscular strength and power.
Specifically, a lack of vitamin D leads to abnormalities in muscle contraction and relaxation, affecting muscle force production. There is also evidence that adequate levels of vitamin D reduce the loss of protein in muscle that comes with aging, inactivity, or calorie restriction.
Adequate vitamin D has been found to increase size and strength of type II muscle fibers in a variety of populations. For example, a recent study found that overweight adults who took vitamin D in conjunction with doing a strength training program increased their explosive power significantly more than a group that didn’t take vitamin D.
#3: Low vitamin D is linked to low fat burning and reproductive hormones in both genders.
In men, low vitamin D is associated with low testosterone and poor fertility. For instance, research found that men with adequate vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) had higher testosterone levels, the leanest body composition, a greater percentage of lean mass, and better overall health than men with insufficient D.
Women need vitamin D for hormone balance as well and it’s essential for reproduction and a healthy pregnancy. For instance, mothers who have adequate vitamin D have leaner offspring. Research suggests that vitamin D affects genetic signaling pathways linked to metabolism in a developing fetus.
#4: A healthy vitamin D level is necessary for a robust immune system. In addition, because of the role vitamin D plays on muscle and strength, it is protective against sports and training-related injuries.
For example, a research study found that NFL athletes who had the lowest vitamin D levels had a much greater risk of muscle injury over the course of the season. The average vitamin D level of injured players was 19.9 ng/ml, whereas the healthy players had an average level that was about ten points higher at 31.9 ng/ml.
#5: Vitamin D is produced in the body in response to direct sunlight. To maintain healthy levels year-round, get a vitamin D test seasonally because blood levels fluctuate with the change in sunlight.
In order to maintain vitamin D levels from sun exposure, scientists suggest you need to be in direct sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.
Wearing sunscreen or sunglasses, or having dark skin color will significantly impede your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. For example, a 2010 survey of Americans found that 70 percent of whites but 93 percent of blacks were deficient in vitamin D.