The Sunshine Vitamin(1) has been gaining popularity in recent of years thanks to several of its important health benefits such as;
- bone and muscle health- injury prevention and recovery support
- immune function
- combatting fatigue
It is estimated that approximately 50% of people worldwide have insufficient levels of Vitamin D and thankfully it is an easily accessible supplement. So, why should you take Vitamin D? The vast majority of people you meet will be able to tell you it’s “good for you”, but what exactly is it, why do I need it, and where can I find it?
Where does Vitamin D come from?
Vitamin D is often referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin because the primary source of this important compound is from sunlight exposure in adults.(2) In fact, it is understood that at least 80% of our Vitamin D production is thanks to ultraviolet B radiation from the sun. A brief description involves the photo-conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D and more, but the key point, which you may have already realised, is that we don’t always get the sun exposure we might like, particularly in winter months. The remaining 10-20% of Vitamin D in adults is made up by limited nutritional sources such as oily fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as soy milk and some cereals.
Who is at risk of being Vitamin D deficient?
Depending on where you are in the world, the risk of Vitamin D insufficiency can be determined, amongst other things, by your latitude i.e. the level of sunlight to which you are exposed annually. Most countries situated on the equator have sufficient exposure to Ultraviolet Light B (UVB) but as you get closer to the north and south poles, your annual exposure to UVB decreases. For example, a study in the UK demonstrated that Vitamin D levels in non-professional athletes and healthy adults were significantly declined during the winter months(3), which in turn had detrimental effects on musculoskeletal performance.
It’s crucial to acknowledge the health risks associated with overdoing it in the sunlight department and the importance of sunscreen cannot be stressed enough to preserve skin integrity and reduce the risk of skin cancer. In fact, according to the British Association of Dermatology, sunscreen use for daily and recreational sun protection does not compromise vitamin D synthesis(4), so be sure to protect yourself on the maybe not-so-frequent days on the beach or sunbathing in the park.
What are the benefits of taking a Vitamin D supplement?
The benefits of Vitamin D are multifactorial with the most prominent being musculoskeletal health and immune function, amongst others.
The most extensively researched role of Vitamin D is in its impact on bone mineral density. Bone mineral density is effectively the strength of your bones and plays an importantly role in reducing the risk of fractures. Vitamin D is a key component in the process of bone formation throughout life, and deficiencies increase the risk of osteoporosis (reduced bone mass) and osteomalacia (normal amount of bone but decreased mineral content). Of particular note for younger readers, your peak bone mass is achieved in your mid to late twenties - at which point it plateaus for a number of years and then begins to slowly decline(5). The higher the peak achieved, the better the baseline bone strength before the inevitable decline, which increases the chances of prolonged bone health as you get older. This is of even further importance for females, who are at an increased risk of osteoporosis compared to males, particularly after menopause.
The relationship between Vitamin D and muscle strength is likely to be most prominent in those that have low levels of Vitamin D. Supplementation has been shown to have considerable positive effects on athletes who are known to be deficient(6), particularly in lower limb strength. There is strong correlation between Vitamin D sufficiency and optimal muscle function with reductions in inflammation, pain, and muscle disease.(7) Deficiency has commonly been found to be present in those frequently presenting with stress fractures, musculoskeletal pain, and recurrent illness.
Recent studies of Vitamin D have been gaining traction thanks to its positive effects on immune function. Over the past decade there has been extensive evidence that individuals with insufficient levels of circulating Vitamin D experienced more severe symptoms in acute respiratory tract infections and its supplementation protects against these infections overall in those that are deficient(8). This has prompted further analysis of its impact on patients with COVID-19. Recent evidence has shown that positivity rates of SARS-CoV-2 are strongly and inversely linked with Vitamin D levels, meaning those who have lower levels are more likely to experience severe symptoms and outcomes of the illness(9). Interestingly, this significance persisted across latitudes, race/ethnicity, sex, and age.
Vitamin D has also been shown to have far-reaching effects upon fatigue and depression in the general population. Replacing deficiency of the vitamin is evidenced to improve self-perceived levels of fatigue in otherwise healthy individuals.(11) A study in the USA detected Vitamin D insufficiency in 77.2% of patients presenting to their primary care doctor with fatigue and significant improvements in fatigue symptoms were achieved with normalisation.(12) Furthermore, Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to be an efficient, convenient, cost-effective treatment for individuals suffering from seasonal depression in those who are deficient.(13)
Taking a maintenance dose of Vitamin D supplementation every morning or evening can be a simple, impactful habit to add to your day, especially during winter months, as we continue to work from home, and spend increased time indoors. It could be one little add-on to your routine which creates a ripple effect of positive outcomes in terms of energy levels, immune function, and exercise. Your future bone health might thank you.
What can Kinetica do to help?
When it comes to choosing the right Vitamin D to go for, it can be confusing, with many people asking what is the difference between Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3? To put it simply, Vitamin D3 is only found in animal-sourced foods whereas Vitamin D2 mainly comes from plant sources and fortified foods. Studies have shown that Vitamin D3 supplements may be superior in raising the body's Vitamin D stores hence our choice to launch Kinetica Vitamin D3 to the Kinetica product range. Our Vitamin D3 comes in a handy oral spray with one spray a day giving you your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 3000 IU. Our label is cleaner and shorter than most –transparency is everything to us and we always take the necessary steps to ensure consumers can trust the quality of our range. Each and every batch of Kinetica Vitamin D3 is tested to comply to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exacting standards under the Informed Sport testing regime to ensure we offer our customers a safe and dependable sports nutrition product. Product safety is always our number one priority.
Kinetica. You know why. We know how.
- Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The "sunshine" vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):118-26.
- Saraff V, Shaw N. Sunshine and vitamin D. Arch Dis Child. 2016;101(2):190-2.
- Close GL, Russell J, Cobley JN, Owens DJ, Wilson G, Gregson W, et al. Assessment of vitamin D concentration in non-supplemented professional athletes and healthy adults during the winter months in the UK: implications for skeletal muscle function. J Sports Sci. 2013;31(4):344-53.
- Passeron T, Bouillon R, Callender V, Cestari T, Diepgen TL, Green AC, et al. Sunscreen photoprotection and vitamin D status. Br J Dermatol. 2019;181(5):916-31.
- Weaver CM, Gordon CM, Janz KF, Kalkwarf HJ, Lappe JM, Lewis R, et al. The National Osteoporosis Foundation's position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations. Osteoporos Int. 2016;27(4):1281-386.
- Stockton KA, Mengersen K, Paratz JD, Kandiah D, Bennell KL. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on muscle strength: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2011;22(3):859-71.
- Shuler FD, Wingate MK, Moore GH, Giangarra C. Sports health benefits of vitamin d. Sports Health. 2012;4(6):496-501.
- Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, Greenberg L, Aloia JF, Bergman P, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. Bmj. 2017;356:i6583.
- Kaufman HW, Niles JK, Kroll MH, Bi C, Holick MF. SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. PLoS One. 2020;15(9):e0239252.
- Griffin G, Hewison M, Hopkin J, Kenny R, Quinton R, Rhodes J, et al. Vitamin D and COVID-19 -evidence and recommendations for supplementation. Royal Society Open Science. 2020.
- Nowak A, Boesch L, Andres E, Battegay E, Hornemann T, Schmid C, et al. Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(52):e5353.
- Roy S, Sherman A, Monari-Sparks MJ, Schweiker O, Hunter K. Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study (EViDiF Study). N Am J Med Sci. 2014;6(8):396-402.
- Sarkar S. Vitamin D for Depression with a Seasonal Pattern: an Effective Treatment Strategy. International Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Journal. 2017;1.