Your body needs vitamin D — especially if you are active. Vitamin D has the power to maintain and repair bone. Plus, vitamin D helps prevent low bone density, osteoporosis and fracture.
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Vitamin D helps you reach your peak athletic performance by improving strength, speed, endurance, balance and reaction time, explains Cleveland Clinic Sports Health medical specialist Anne Rex-Torzok, DO. It also increases the size and percentage of muscle fibers, which help you generate quick bursts of speed and power.
The three main sources of vitamin D are:
- Vitamin D supplements (at least 1,000 IU daily). D3 is best absorbed.
- Foods such as fish, liver and egg yolks
- Sunlight (No more than 10 to 15 minutes in the middle of the day).
If you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet and live in a cloudy climate, you are probably vitamin D-deficient.
What lack of vitamin D can do
Vitamin D deficiency can keep you from peak performance. It can also can cause you to miss time away from your favorite sport(s) because of:
- Stress fractures
- Repeated fractures
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain
- More frequent viral illnesses
Adolescents need D, too
Adolescent athletes need their vitamin D as well. Youngsters’ bodies grow fast, and vitamin D will help them develop strong bones. Adolescents should take vitamin D.
If you’re an athlete and you’ve had chronic injuries, persistent muscle pain or repeated illnesses, talk to your doctor. You may have a vitamin D deficiency.
Your doctor can check your blood levels of vitamin D. If it turns out that you are deficient, he or she can prescribe high doses of vitamin D temporarily until your blood levels normalize. Your doctor may then switch you to an over-the-counter D3 supplement to maintain healthy levels of this key vitamin.