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Vitamin D: All you need to know

Vitamin D is often referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin' as it is primarily produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D can be obtained in the diet through the consumption of fatty fish, and in smaller amounts from dairy products.

Vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon, and is caused by inadequate exposure to sunlight. This means that athletes who regularly train indoors may be at particular risk. Even if you are regularly exposed to sunlight, the absorption of vitamin D may be compromised due to the use of sunblock.

In supplement form vitamin D is available in two forms: D2 and D3. Look for supplements containing vitamin D3, as this form is produced naturally within the body and is therefore more readily absorbed.

The benefits of vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the absorption of calcium. If you become deficient the health of your bones can suffer, leaving you vulnerable to injuries such as stress fractures.

Vitamin D has also been linked to the normal function of muscles in athletes, impacting protein synthesis and in turn muscle strength.

Finally, vitamin D also boosts the production of immune cells, so has an important role in fighting and preventing illness.

How much vitamin D should I take?

A daily intake of 25mcg (1,000 IU) is recommended to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. If you are found to be vitamin D deficient a dose of 100mcg (4,000IU) is recommended to quickly correct deficiency.

When should I take vitamin D?

Some experts recommend taking vitamin D with food to aid absorption. But according to the Vitamin D Council this is unfounded, and vitamin D can be taken at any time as long as it is taken regularly.

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