Vitamin D supplementation for home fitness enthusiasts, is something to be considered as part of an overall nutritional overhaul.
If Your Body Was a Car
Think about your car. Can it move without tires? Can it run without gas? What happens if the oil gets gunky, the wiper blades get brittle, the seats get torn, the hoses, gaskets, bearings and sealants lose their integrity? Your car is a machine. It’s a composition of thousands of minor pieces working together in perfect harmony to accomplish a specific job.
If you’re not a car enthusiast, then popping open the hood of your vehicle reveals a web of complex, incomprehensible, interwoven workings of machinery. You might be dumbfounded at how the whole system works… but it’s nothing compared to the human body.
Take all of the most complex aspects of an internal combustion engine, transmission and drive train, and amplify them by a million, and you will have something close to the complexity of the inner workings of the human body.
You must train your body, and maintain your body, as a larger machine — a sum of its infinitely smaller parts and pieces. Specificity, whether it comes in the form of physical training or in nutritive supplementation, is a progress killer. The specialist might be excellent at hockey, or rock climbing, or power lifting, but the athlete will be good at all of them. This is why you must specialize in not specializing, and train and fuel your body as a whole.
Ok, ok, we just wanted to sound smart and scientific. The idea here is that if you’re going to take the time to train your body as a whole, then why would you fuel it any differently? If you were looking to achieve maximal healthy and lean muscle gain, would you only eat protein? Or would you balance it with a carefully chose ratio of carbohydrates and fats?
This series of posts will be in relation to some of the lesser known vitamins and minerals that often get overlooked in the fitness and health industries. Or even worse, they get recommended as miracle cure-alls. This is simply not possible. Vitamin C will not cure the common cold, for example. But an overall healthy immune system, supplemented with essential nutrients and vitamins, including Vitamin C will be able to fend off the cold.
This post will focus specifically on Vitamin D. Please check out our other nutrition articles for information on some of the other, oft-overlooked, yet essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D supplementation is getting a lot of press lately as a miracle vitamin. It’s getting credit for doing just about everything, from increasing bone density to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancers. It’s unrealistic to assume, however, that Vitamin D supplementation on top of an otherwise unhealthy diet, will yield any of the above results.
In fact, if not properly balanced with supportive vitamins and minerals, Vitamin D over-supplementation may do the exact opposite.
The Best Source for Vitamin D
The best source for natural Vitamin D is one of the most vilified member of our cosmic neighborhood: The Sun. The Sun shines light onto the planet, supports life, creates warmth, and through a miracle of evolution, reacts directly with our skin to create natural, healthy Vitamin D. Estimates suggest, even, that as little as 10 minutes of full body sun exposure during peak summer months, creates more than your daily requirement of Vitamin D.
What about the non summer months? In the past, migratory tribes of humans found other ways to get Vitamin D. Northern humans would ingest fish and animals more rich in the Vitamin. Humans living at the equator had much less of a need for this.
Now we can’t expect all of you, even as “refugees,” to just get up and go north to find fatty fish in the winter months. So here is where supplementation comes into play.
We recommend at least 10 minutes of sun exposure per day to as much of your body as possible. The less skin exposed, the longer you should aim to be exposed. Take care not to over-expose. This can lead to sun burn and some of the more negative nasties associated with sun exposure. Plus, Sun exposure feels great!
If You Must Supplement…
Barring the ability to tan under the summer midday Sun, we recommend 5,000 IU Vitamin D supplementation per day during the fall and winter months. Our favorite brand is the NOW Brands High Potency Vitamin D-3 Supplement. The Vitamin D is produced naturally from Lanolin (which you may be familiar with as sheep’s wool), so you don’t need to worry about synthetic nasties making their way in.
Another excellent product is Primal Sun by Primal Blueprint. It’s formulated for 2000 IU, has varied types of Vitamin D, as well as Calcium to aid in absorption and utilization once in your system. If you get some Sun, but not quite enough, this is a great supplement to take if you don’t feel like you need a full 5,000 IU dose. Click here to buy it now.
Do You Have to Supplement?
A nutrition wouldn’t be complete without an honest assessment of whether you really need to supplement Vitamin D or not. We are of the mindset that you should not take anything more than your body needs; you should not spend any more than your budget allows; and you should not train any more or less than is needed to meet your goals.
With this in mind, we urge anyone interested in Vitamin D supplementation, to first assess existing diet and exercise habits. Track your food intake and sun exposure for a week or two. Create a detailed log or journal of your energy levels and workout performances. If possible get some blood work done at a lab as a baseline blood chemistry to use in the future.
If you feel well, your workouts and fitness are improving, and your energy does not feel lacking, you truthfully may not need to supplement. Good job!! Few people can make an honest assessment like this and answer in the same way.
If you decide to supplement Vitamin D, read up on the other nutrients essential to its utilization in your bloodstream. As this post is titled, you must train and fuel your body as a whole. Supplementing with only Vitamin D while ignoring important vitamins could lead to more problems. This is often the reason some of these vitamins taken by themselves get vilified by the public.
As always, train hard and stay strong!
Tried Vitamin D supplementation? Have a success story to share? Post it below!