Understanding vitamin D’s communication via receptors throughout the body has opened up insight into new roles of this vitamin well beyond bone health that include immune health and athletic performance.
Cardiovascular system function:
Given vitamin D’s integral role in maintaining tissue levels of calcium needed for muscle contraction, it follows that muscle function, particularly cardiac function is dependent upon adequate status for this vitamin. Also, research shows sufficient vitamin D levels are critical for cardiorespiratory fitness. To measure cardiovascular fitness, maximal oxygen consumption during exercise is measured and this is called VO2 max. In almost 2000 individuals ages 20 to 49 years old, it was determined that there was a significant positive association between serum vitamin D levels and VO2 max suggesting improved cardiovascular function with better vitamin D status.2
Immune system function:
Exciting research suggests vitamin D serves as powerful support for your immune system. Vitamin D stimulates innate immunity which is basically your first-line defence mechanism, where your body develops a nonspecific response to something that is foreign to the body.3 One of the ways vitamin D may do this is by indirectly creating antimicrobials that can destroy bacteria.3 Also, this vitamin may modify immune responses through our gut.
Muscle function and athletic performance:
Vitamin D keeps the thermostat for calcium levels operating 24/7 and new research shows this may play a significant role in optimising muscle function and contraction and ultimately athletic performance. Research from sports science laboratories shows that supplemental vitamin D may improve different measures of performance and help combat potential vitamin D deficiency in athletes that train and perform indoors, such as martial arts participants, gymnasts and the like.4
Normal cell changes and cell growth:
Vitamin D receptors have been discovered in many sites throughout the body such as in the intestines, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and brain. Researchers note that body cells need proper vitamin D levels for normal growth and function of specific cells. This role helps explain emerging evidence that insufficient vitamin D status is linked to abnormal cell growth and some cancers.1
Vitamin D Solutions
Supplementation with vitamin D helps ensure we obtain adequate levels of this vitamin, since obtaining enough from diet alone along with our tendency for “indoor-living” and use of sunscreens easily exacerbate the problem.
- Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):118-126. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95506
- Marawan A, Kurbanova N, Qayyum R. Association between serum vitamin D levels and cardiorespiratory fitness in the adult population of the USA. Eur J Prev Cardiolog. Published online October 30, 2018:2047487318807279. doi:10.1177/2047487318807279
- Lucas RM, Gorman S, Geldenhuys S, Hart PH. Vitamin D and immunity. F1000Prime Rep. 2014;6. doi:10.12703/P6-118
- Shuler FD, Wingate MK, Moore GH, Giangarra C. Sports health benefits of vitamin D. Sports Health. 2012;4(6):496-501. doi:10.1177/1941738112461621