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Vitamin D for Athletes - Why do they Need It to Perform and How to Get Enough?

Dt. Kavita Agarwal 91% (1019 ratings)
M.Sc - Dietitics / Nutrition, Diploma in Food & Nutrition & Diabetic Educator , B.Sc. - Home Science
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Bangalore  •  9 years experience
Vitamin D for Athletes - Why do they Need It to Perform and How to Get Enough?

Vitamin D is considered to be a very important nutrient. It plays a very important role in the development and maintenance of the bones of human body. Deficiency of vitamin D can cause several complications in the bone health such as rickets and osteomalacia.

Why athletes require vitamin D?
Vitamin D is vital for all human beings, but in the case of athletes, it is even more important. Athletes require stronger bones than normal people because they are subjected to much more physical exercise and stress. Athletes depend on their bones and their strength to perform well. Runners, gymnasts and all kinds of athletes who utilize their limbs require strong and healthy bones, in order to be more strong and stable and also for being less prone to bone injuries. Weak bones can easily crack or break during the activities carried out by an athlete and thus enough supply of vitamin D is very essential for the athletes. Stronger bones would enhance their overall body strength, which would have a positive effect on their performance.

In athletes, the limbs are subjected to extreme exertion and a lot of extra pressure is put on the bones. Proper vitamin D enrichment would make the bones function more efficiently. For all these reasons, proper intake of vitamin D is very essential, especially for athletes.

A primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. Adequate exposure to sunlight enriches you with vitamin D. Many athletes have to perform in severe heat conditions under a very bright sun, where direct exposure for a long time may cause sunburns. To avoid these, many athletes apply sunscreen to cover their exposed skin. Using sunscreen forms a layer on the skin through which sunlight cannot penetrate and thus the supply of vitamin D is restricted. Hence, athletes require more vitamin D from other sources.

How to get enough vitamin D?
To keep the bones extra strong and healthy, athletes should intake enough vitamin D. The major sources of vitamin D include:

  1. Natural vitamin D rich foods should be consumed regularly, which include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, fish liver oil, egg yolks, beef liver and cheese. Food items fortified with vitamin D should also be consumed. They are orange juice, milk, yogurt and some cereals.
  2. Exposure to the sun is very important as the sunlight is rich in vitamin D. The exposure of the face, arms, back and legs to direct sunlight during mid-day, without using a sunscreen should be practised.

Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the bones strong and healthy. This is why athletes require sufficient vitamin D for better performance. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.

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