Not getting enough vitamin D may be hindering your athletic performance, according to a new study from the University of Tulsa in the US.
Researchers studied the blood levels of vitamin D of about 100 university athletes. They also tested how fast the athletes could sprint, how high and how far they could jump, and how much weight they could squat for one rep.
About 1 in 3 of the athletes had inadequate levels of vitamin D (less than 72 nanomoles per liter of blood).
Those athletes’ one-rep maxes on the squat were 77 per cent lighter than people with higher D levels.
In addition, their shuttle runs were 18 per cent slower, their vertical leaps 15 per cent lower and their distance jumps 80 per cent shorter.
Why? One theory is that vitamin D may help your muscle cells release calcium more efficiently during the muscle contraction process, says study author Dr Rachel Hildebrand.
That can lead to faster and more powerful contractions, says Hildebrand – meaning you can jump higher, sprint faster and lift heavier.
Exercise scientist Dr Brad Schoenfeld is sceptical that vitamin D could affect your strength to that degree. The study was small, and it only found a link between D and strength – it doesn’t necessarily prove cause and effect.
Still, there is evidence that D plays a role in muscle strength and development, he says.
Regardless, you should be aiming to hit your quota of 1500 to 2000 IU of vitamin D a day.
Load up on fatty fish and fortified milk and aim to get at least 10 minutes of sunshine a day.