Vitamins are necessary nutrients for the proper functioning of our body and, together with other nutritional elements, act as catalysts for all physiological processes, such as growth.
There are many types of vitamins, a total of 13, but they are all grouped into 2 categories:
- Water-soluble vitamins, which are not stored in the body. Surpluses or excessive amounts of these vitamins leave the body through urine. They must be consumed regularly to avoid deficiencies in the body, except for vitamin B12.
- Fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in the liver, fat tissue, and muscles of the body. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K; and in this post we are going to talk about the importance of vitamin D in sports performance.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is represented by two compounds: cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2), which are structurally similar steroids derived from provitamin D sterols.
The difference is that vitamin D3 is produced by solar action on the skin in animals and people, while vitamin D2 is also produced by solar action, but in plants, fungi and yeasts.
We can obtain vitamin D in three different ways:
- Through diet
- Of the skin.
- Of food supplements..
Our body generates vitamin D naturally after exposure to the sun; but excessive exposure to the sun can lead to aging and, therefore, cause skin cancer; so this leads to many people trying to get vitamin D through other sources.
Therefore, 90% of the vitamin D that our skin produces is due to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This means that, depending on where we live, people who live in less sunny places have the need to include foods rich in vitamin D in their diet. In this sense, health and sports professionals recommend doing water or outdoor sports free to be exposed to correct sun exposure, and thus obtain more benefits when doing sports.
What is vitamin D used for?
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks of bones. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. Additionally, vitamin D plays an important role in the nervous, muscular, and immune systems.
The EFSA (The European Food Safety Authority) has declared that vitamin D is extremely necessary for our because:
- Contributes to the normal maintenance of muscle function.
- It is a key element for cell division.
- Contributes to the correct function of the immune system.
- Contributes to the normal absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the bones and teeth, essential for growth and development.
The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D depends on age, and is presented in international units (IU) or micrograms (µg). In addition, we have to take into account that the amount of Vitamin D that our body produces depends on many factors: such as the season of the year, the time of day, the latitude in which we live, lifestyle or skin pigmentation.
Benefits of taking vitamin D
The benefits of taking vitamin D are varied, but we will highlight the following:
Increase muscle mass
Vitamin D is a fundamental substance for skeletal muscle, helping its repair and hypertrophy.
A decrease in vitamin D would be related to a decrease in muscle strength, lower performance, increased risk of injury, and a greater ability to retain subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Based on this, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have shown that increased vitamin D helps muscle strength.
Improve sports performance
To achieve better sports performance, vitamin D is a key nutrient; and it is that not only has its deficiency been shown to be a limiting factor in our sports performance, but it is also an enhancer when our vitamin D level is high.
In fact, it is important to have an adequate diet of this vitamin in order to achieve the best possible performance and optimal muscle recovery.
Reduces the risk of injury
One of the risks of not having a good level of vitamin D is injury, and it can increase exponentially if we are not careful.
What happens if I don’t take Vitamin D
A lack of vitamin D can cause a loss of bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis or bone fractures. Extreme vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other types of diseases, for example, in children it can cause rickets, and in adults it leads to osteomalacia and muscle weakness.
Vitamin D insufficiency can occur for different reasons:
- We do not get enough vitamin D in the diet.
- Our body does not absorb enough vitamin D from food, or what is known as malabsorption.
- We don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.
- The liver or kidneys cannot convert vitamin D into its active form in the body.
- We are taking medications that interfere with the body’s ability to convert or absorb vitamin D.
Vitamin D in sports performance
Vitamin D is essential in resistance training and sports performance for muscle regeneration processes, and prevention of skeletal muscle damage; however, many elite sportsmen and athletes are severely deficient in vitamin D, and for this reason, more and more athletes and coaches are taking steps to confirm this.
Having said this, having vitamin D levels controlled is essential in the nutritional diet of these athletes and professional sportsmen, because they will be able to enjoy:
- Correct optimization of muscle function.
- Better bone health.
- Minimization of the risk of infection.
- Increases testosterone levels.
- Minimizes problems such as depression and decreased muscle mass, among other benefits.
However, it is important to bear in mind that vitamin D is a biological requirement and, as such, we must consult a specialist if we want to resort to supplementation.
Vitamin D and athletes
As we have commented before, vitamin D deficiency is closely related to bone lesions; For this reason, in this sense, athletes, coaches and athletes must pay special attention to this vitamin, and review its deficit to know the state of their skeletal muscle health.
In addition to helping in sports, it also increases testosterone, a crucial hormone for muscle development and increased energy. On the contrary, low testosterone levels are related to physical and mental health problems, such as depression or decreased muscle mass.
On the other hand, other scientific investigations closely relate a high level of vitamin D, with the improvement of athletic skills such as sprinting and jumping; and an increased speed of recovery after intense exercise.
Electrostimulation to improve sports performance
To improve sports performance, EMS (Electro Muscle Stimulation) training can be an extra help. This technology is intended to exercise muscles using local electrical impulses. These impulses are generated from a device, and transmitted by means of special Wiemspro electrostimulation suits that have electrodes located in the main muscle groups that you want to work on.
These impulses penetrate the deepest muscle fibers, causing a powerful muscle contraction; so that we exercise the muscles in a more effective and powerful way.
In this sense, electrostimulation is an essential complement to achieve your goals in a fast, effective and visible way.
If we practice electrostimulation training 2 or 3 times a week, and accompany it with a healthy diet, rich in nutrients, we can achieve much faster, more effective and visible results than with conventional training.
We must be aware that electrofitness is used to lose weight even to get more toned, but it is not a miracle technology. In fact, electrostimulation should be a complement to other healthy habits, such as eating a healthy diet, playing sports or leading an active life.