They call vitamin D “the sunshine vitamin” because it’s one of the few vitamins that you can acquire just by sitting in a turtle-shaped kiddie pool in the backyard or just while being outside in the sunlight generally. Despite being a free vitamin that literally falls right out of the sky, nearly seventy-five percent of American adults and teens don’t get enough of it according Scientific American.
Vitamin D does a lot of great stuff. It helps you absorb calcium for bone growth. It supports the immune system, the brain, cardiovascular health, mood and the nervous system. It may also play a role in diabetes management and has been linked to reduced likelihoods of certain cancers and other illnesses.
But now, this vitamin/hormone may also play a role in sports performance. According to a preliminary study presented at the Endocrinology Society annual conference, vitamin D may be able to stop enzyme 11-βHSD1 (the enzyme we all love to hate, right?) from making cortisol, often known as the “stress hormone.”
For athletes, an increase in long-term cortisol levels can be a big bad deal because “ye olde stress hormone” can inhibit hormones that stimulate muscle growth. It can also negatively impact performance through inflammation and fatigue. So if vitamin D can block the production of cortisol it would, in theory, improve one’s athletic abilities.
Luckily, we have to theorize very little because scientists have already tested this out. In their pilot study, the researchers gave 13 healthy adults either 50 μg of vitamin D or a placebo for two weeks. Those in the Vitamin-D group had lower blood pressures, lower levels of cortisol in their urine, showed fewer signs of exertion after exercise and were able to cycle 30% farther than those in the group that didn’t take vitamin D. The scientists plan to follow up this study with a larger and longer one that tests a wider range of people.
Cortisol has also been linked to higher blood pressure and a mess of other cardiovascular problems. If the research plays out, vitamin D may have further applications for heart health, too.
If you’re looking for a vitamin D supplement, look no further than AIM’s CalciAIM. This great-tasting dietary supplement provides 70% of your RDA for vitamin D in every single serving. It also provides vitamin C (54%), magnesium (26%), calcium (38%) as well as several other minerals.