Researchers have believed that vitamin D is important to your bone, brain, and heart health for many years. Thanks to a new study, they now think people with high levels of vitamin D get a boost in their workout routines, too.
The study, which was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, finds that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with greater exercise abilities.
The findings add to the increasing evidence that vitamin D plays a role in heart health, boosting exercise capacity, and possibly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies have found that people who exercise regularly are more likely to have high vitamin D levels. This study looked at the connection between those vitamin D levels and overall cardiorespiratory fitness, or how well your body performs during exercise.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is best measured by the maximum amount of oxygen you consume during exercise. This number presents a picture of how effectively your lungs and heart work together during exercise to move oxygen around your body to the muscles that need it.
The findings are reported as your VO2 max. People with greater cardiorespiratory health, or higher VO2 max capacity, can exercise longer and more vigorously. That means they may also have greater overall health compared to individuals with lower cardiorespiratory health. These people may live longer, healthier lives as a result.
Where to get vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, develops naturally in your body in response to sun exposure. It’s also found naturally in some foods, such as fish and egg yolks.
While your body can make vitamin D naturally, it can only do so during adequate sun exposure. That amount of sunlight is difficult to find in the winter months. During these months, it’s better to look for the vitamin in fatty fish, including tuna, mackerel, and salmon, as well as egg yolks, fortified cereal and milk, and cheese. Some leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are also good sources of vitamin D.
The benefits of vitamin D
In 2011, Harvard researchers released a study that found that people who exercise vigorously and regularly have higher levels of vitamin D.
A 2017 study from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland found a “synergistic” link between exercise and good vitamin D levels, too. The researchers determined that people who exercise more have higher levels of vitamin D, and the most active study participants with the highest levels of vitamin D also had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.
From all these studies, however, it’s still unclear whether vitamin D is driving fitness, or if increased fitness helps the body boost vitamin D stores.
It appears instead that the two work together to equally enhance one another. That means that taking more vitamin D alone isn’t going to improve your VO2 max or fitness capabilities. You have to exercise to reap the benefits.
Together, physical activity and healthy eating promote the reduction of excess fat and the increase of lean mass, in addition to reducing the risks of diseases such as obesity. Healthy eating and physical activity make up the two pillars of weight loss. Our meals are tasty and nutritious, you will have all the nutrients your body needs.
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