The D. Why it's important and how to get it.

The D. Why you need it and how to get it.

If you've ever come into my office and peeked at the bookshelves shelves you may have noticed two supplements sitting above the books: Progenex Protein and Vitamin D. 

Those are the only supplements that I take consistently. 

There are other valuable supplements out there for sure.  But if you're on a limited budget like I am, you may have to decide where to spend your money.  And as far as supplements go, these are the two that are most important me.

And because I'm sure many of you are already aware of the importance of protein, especially in athletes, this post will focus on Vitamin D.

As coaches, we often are approached by members and asked for ideas on what supplements to take to optimize the time spent here training.

I tend to open with the same line every time: "The truth is that food and sleep are far more important than any powder, pill or drink you'll find at GNC or CFC." 

The basics have to be in place before we fill in the details with supplements.

There is one vitamin however, that actually aids in both getting a deep restful, restorative sleep and best-utilizing nutrients from food: Vitamin D.

It has been linked to calcium absorption, immune system support, metabolism boost, lower risk of heart and brain disease, cancers and more.

The key difference between D and other vitamins? We cannot create it in our body without aid. It is found only in certain enriched dairy and meat products, and some kinds of fish or egg yolks. This means certain diets that limit or exclude dairy and meat are essentially devoid of vitamin D. Otherwise, you only get it from the sun.

Sounds simple, but most people do not spend nearly enough, if any time in the sun on a regular basis. Some research suggests as little as 10-15 minutes in the sun can be a big boost, but many would be hard pressed to say they honestly get 15 minutes of straight sunshine daily. And Oregon isn't exactly known for its bright sunny days.

Darker skin pigmentation also can make absorbing D via sunlight more difficult.

So, what can we do to ensure we are giving our body enough of this essential vitamin? If you are not purposely eliminating animal products like eggs, dairy and meat, you should make sure you’re getting quality versions and eating them regularly.

It's also important to make a real effort to spend time outside in the sun. Walk the dog, hike with family or friends, or just lie by the pool for a bit to get the benefits. (be careful not to stay out too long though. Sunburn and sun skin damage can outweigh the positives if we’re not careful, and sunscreen can cut vitamin D production by up to 95%

To ensure that any missteps or missing links in these first two parts don’t become detrimental, add a vitamin D3 supplement to your diet as well.

Base recommended intake of vitamin D is 1,500-2,000 IU a day for adults and 600-1,000IUs for children 1-18 years old. 

Note: doses for pregnant women are often different and should be given by your doctor.

There are many studies though that suggest higher dosages are both safe and perhaps even more useful.  Personally I worry about not getting enough far more than I worry about getting too much.

It is important to check the supplement you choose for quality and potency, too. Regulations are loose in the supplement world and sometimes you won’t get what’s advertised on the bottle. Look for brands that have certified potency markers or other quality control insurances clearly listed.

To end, I would stress the importance of having your nutrition dialed in and consistent before spending money on supplements.  If you've got that going, and are looking to add a supplement, I would recommend doing some research and consider starting with the D.

Until next time, Cimmerians!

Coach Ty

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