High Vitamin D Levels Linked with Better Fitness
High Vitamin D Linked with Better Fitness – There’s yet another reason to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D: High levels of this essential nutrient are linked with better fitness, according to a new study. In the study, people with higher vitamin D levels also tended to have better cardiorespiratory fitness, a measure of a person’s aerobic fitness level.
Vitamin D which belongs to the family of fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are absorbed well with fat and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that you can get from vitamin D-rich foods or supplements. Such as:
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): Found in plant foods like mushrooms.
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): Found in animal foods like salmon, cod and egg yolks. And your body is also able to make it through sun exposure.
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, keeping your immune system healthy and facilitating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Because vitamin D is not found naturally in very many foods, most health professionals recommend getting at least 5–30 minutes of sun exposure daily or taking a supplement to meet the recommended daily amount of 600 IU (15 mcg).
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However, the study found only an association between vitamin D and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and could not prove that high vitamin D levels actually improve people’s fitness.
“We don’t know if higher vitamin D levels improved CRF or [if] higher CRF increased vitamin D levels,” lead study author Dr. Amr Marawan, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, said.
The study was published on (Oct. 30) in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Higher Vitamin D Levels May Aid Weight Loss
Some evidence suggests that getting enough vitamin D could enhance weight loss and decrease body fat.
At least 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) is considered to be an adequate blood level to promote strong bones and overall health. One study looked at 218 overweight and obese women over a one-year period. All were put on a calorie-restricted diet and exercise routine. Half of the women received a vitamin D supplement, while the other half received a placebo.
At the end of the study, researchers found that women who fulfilled their vitamin D requirements experienced more weight loss, losing an average of 7 pounds (3.2 kg) more than the women who did not have adequate blood levels ( 11).
Another study provided overweight and obese women with vitamin D supplements for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the women didn’t experience any weight loss, but they did find that increasing levels of vitamin D decreased body fat. In short, increasing your vitamin D intake may promote weight loss, although more research is needed before strong conclusions can be reached.
Vitamin D and VO2
It’s well-known that vitamin D is important for healthy bones, but a growing body of research suggests that the vitamin may also affect the heart and the skeletal muscles. Vitamin D aids your immune system and may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from nearly 2,000 people in the U.S. ages 20 to 49 who participated in a national health survey from 2001 to 2004. The participants had blood samples taken to analyze the levels of vitamin D in their blood.
They also underwent an exercise test on a treadmill to measure their VO2 max, a proxy for cardiorespiratory fitness. VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can use during exercise. A higher VO2 indicates greater cardiorespiratory fitness.
When participants were divided into five groups based on their vitamin D levels, those in the group with the highest vitamin D levels had a VO2 max that was about 3 units higher than those in the group with the lowest vitamin D levels. (VO2 max is measured in units of milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute.)
In addition, the researchers also found that as vitamin D levels increased, VO2 max increased as well.
The findings held even after the researchers considered factors that could affect people’s vitamin D levels or their cardiorespiratory fitness, including their age, sex, race and body mass index (BMI), as well as whether they smoked or had high blood pressure or diabetes.
The findings were consisted among men and women, as well as among people in different age groups or ethnicities.
While the researchers didn’t specifically look for the mechanism linking vitamin D and improved cardiorespiratory fitness, there is a biologically plausible way that vitamin D could affect people’s fitness levels, the researchers said.
Vitamin D receptors are found on many types of cells in the body, including heart muscle cells, so the vitamin could bind to these cells. Vitamin D could help with muscle-protein synthesis or energy production in cells, the researchers said.
Still, the study was not able to take into account people’s vitamin D consumption or their physical activity levels, both of which could affect the link found in the study, the researchers said. For example, it could be that people who are fitter are more likely to take vitamin D supplements or to have higher vitamin D levels due to sun exposure.
But regardless of the reason for the link, people should make sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin D, the researcher encouraged.