Taking vitamin D supplements might improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease, according to the findings of a study presented in Scotland.
Vitamin D, which is both a vitamin and a hormone, helps control levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood and is essential for the formation of bones and teeth. Sources of Vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but it can be difficult to get enough through diet alone. Most people generate vitamin D by exposing their skin to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.
In the study, researchers from Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University gave 13 healthy adults either a placebo of a Vitamin D pill to take each day for two weeks. A fitness test among those taking the Vitamin D showed the subjects could cycle 6.5km in 20 minutes, compared to 5km at the start of the experiment. In addition to a 30% increase in distance, the vitamin D group reportedly showed lower signs of physical exertion.
“Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure”, said Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, co-author of the study. “Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners”.
“Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers”, said lead author of the study Dr Emad Al-Dujaili. “Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem”.