Don't Miss
Subscribe to Mackie Mail and get a coupon for $10 off your next purchase of $30 or more at Mackie's local GNC franchise locations!

Optimum Performance: Everybody, including New Orleans Saints players, can find benefits in vitamin D

If I were an owner of a pro team like the New Orleans Saints, who are beginning minicamps and summer training sessions, I might consider including a vitamin D status in all my player physicals to see who might be vitamin D deficient.

Why? Because I would want to eliminate the unforeseen risk to bone fractures. This also would determine if players might require skeletal muscle support.

Emerging evidence is now pointing to the role that Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, has in the development of skeletal muscle.

“Several observational studies suggests that low vitamin D status, particularly in older adults, has been associated with reduced muscle mass, strength and performance, and an increased risk of falls,” according to an article by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in the April 2014 issue of Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews.
The National Institutes of Health says that Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations (conversions) in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 – also known as calcitriol.

This understanding of vitamin D science is important, because it may unlock the secret to why this now defined “pro-hormone” may lead us on a safe path of building muscle not only for sports performance enhancement, but also to mitigate muscle loss (sarcopenia) as we age.

Much of the potential for muscle gain has to do with the fact that, “aging may decrease the expression of VDR (vitamin D receptor) in skeletal muscle.”

Vitamin D status can be determined with a blood testwith normal ranges between 30.0 to 74.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), as stated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The current vitamin D requirement is between 400 – 800 international units per day. However, very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best source.

Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef, liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet.

Having tracked my vitamin D labs values for years, I was surprised to see as I aged how my vitamin D (dietary and supplement) intake necessary to maintain normal lab values requires a daily vitamin D intake of 5000 units, which is well above the National Institutes of Health recommendation.

My own personal physician, Leonard Kancher, who tests the Vitamin D status of all his patients, said, “genetics may play a factor in one’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, in one’s ability to produce vitamin D precursors from exposure to sunlight, and the ability of our kidneys to convert vitamin D to its active form.”

Kancher further notes, “you spend a good bit of time outside exercising, you are wearing a sunscreen product with an SPF (sunscreen protection factor) of 30 or higher, and an SPF of just 15 can reduce vitamin D synthetic capacity by 98 percent.”

I don’t doubt for a minute that my age and absorption rate are factors. And, I am almost three times the age of the typical NFL rookie.

Vitamin D is stored in body fat and thus taking too much from excess supplemental intake may be toxic and harmful. Check with your doctor and / or a registered dietitian for proper guidance.

It’s no time for experimentation, while we are still finding the path to better health.

Mackie Shilstone, a regular contributor to | The Times-Picayune, has been involved in the wellness sports performance industry for nearly 40 years. He is currently the fitness coach for Serena Williams, has trained numerous other professional athletes and consulted a litany of professional sports franchises. He is St. Charles Parish Hospital’s Fitness and Wellness expert. Contact him at

Source link