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Higher levels of vitamin D linked to better exercise ability

However, consumers should be careful not to overindulge when it comes to taking supplements

Photo (c) photka - Getty Images
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes a lot of work and requires a lot of research. While incorporating fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly into your daily routine are key components, taking vitamins and supplements can also be beneficial.

Vitamin D has long been touted as being vital for strong bones, and drinking milk and staying in the sun were two such ways of ensuring a steady vitamin D intake.

Now, a new study explores the ways that vitamin D is linked to improved physical fitness. Researchers found that those who have a higher capacity for exercise were also found to have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood, thus proving an added benefit of increasing your vitamin regimen.

Consistent findings

To understand the relationship between vitamin D levels in the blood and fitness, the researchers looked at survey responses from nearly 2,000 participants, ranging in age from 20 through 64.

The findings were consistent across the board in that those who performed the best physically also had higher levels of vitamin D. The participants were both men and women, came from all different age groups, and had varying health concerns -- some participants reported having diabetes while others suffered from high blood pressure. Regardless of any outstanding characteristics, the findings remained consistent.

“The relationship between higher vitamin D levels and better exercise capacity holds in men and women, across the young and middle age groups, across ethnicities, regardless of body mass index or smoking status, and whether or not participants have hypertension or diabetes,” said Dr. Amr Marawan.

Making headlines

As diet supplements become a more popular addition to many consumers’ health regimens, there have been many reports from the health community about the benefits and risks associated with vitamin D.

Despite the strong results of this study, the researchers do warn that consuming too much vitamin D can have negative effects; they want to make it clear that consumers should maintain a healthy level of the vitamin.

“It is not the case that the more vitamin D the better,” said Dr. Marawan. “Toxicity is caused by megadoses of supplements rather than diet or sun exposure, so caution is needed when taking tablets.”

A recent study confirmed Dr. Marawan’s warnings, as it found that some consumers went overboard taking the vitamin D supplement and ended up with abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood. Hypercalcemia -- or having too much calcium in the blood -- can lead to cardiovascular problems or softened tissue, in addition to nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

However, on the other hand, not getting enough vitamin D can be just as detrimental. A study conducted last summer found that taking vitamin D supplements while pregnant can reduce the risk of the child developing ADHD. The researchers emphasized that a deficiency in vitamin D while pregnant can adversely affect the unborn child’s social development and motor skills.

Moreover, vitamin D was found to help reduce swelling and inflammation after a sunburn, and it can also reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, proving that an extra glass of milk or the right dosage of a vitamin D supplement can go a long way.

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