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Can vitamin D improve fitness?

Can vitamin D improve fitness?

Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D has recently hit the health headlines for its ability to boost exercise performance

Here’s the lowdown on how to get the most from this essential vitamin:


Vitamin D is both a vitamin and a hormone which helps the body to control calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. This is essential for strong bones and teeth. It’s also important in making your brain, muscles, heart and lungs work well and that your body can fight infection. 


Good sources of vitamin D include eggs, oily fish, fortified spreads, cereals and some powdered milk . Here’s some great vitamin D foods for winter. However, it is impossible to get enough through diet alone. Your body makes most of its vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight.

The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D for a healthy adult is 600IU. A healthy blood level of vitamin D is 20 ng/ml, and this can be achieved through daily skin exposure to the sun.

Getting enough vitamin D in the winter is even trickier, so here’s some hints to help boost your intake in these darker months.

You can also take vitamin D supplements, but remember that it’s possible overdo it and cause toxicity.


Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need through a healthy diet and sunshine. However, around 10 million people in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency. You are most likely to have deficiencies if you avoid the sun (or are strict about wearing sunscreen), are a strict vegan, have dark skin or are obese.

Symptoms of deficiency includes bone pain and muscle weakness. More serious issues are heart disease, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. A simple blood test can measure your vitamin D levels if you are concerned.


  • Reduced exertion - This recent study from Edinburgh, gave volunteers a daily vitamin D supplement of 50 micrograms and noticed fitness improvements over two weeks. Volunteers were able to cycle longer and with less effort. At the start they could cycle 5km in 20 minutes, compared with 6.5km at the end.
  • Lowers blood pressure - Vitamin D is also a hormone that blocks an enzyme which raises the stress hormone, cortisol, which also raises blood pressure. By supplementing with vitamin D, cortisol levels are controlled and exercise performance boosted, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Mental sharpness - vitamin D has also been found to increase memory function and information processing. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to Alzheimer’s.
the author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for Hussle. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.