Anybody who’s engaged in some sort of fitness program will be familiar with the world of nutritional supplements. Nowhere is there more of a supplement culture than in bodybuilding, where individuals are always looking to gain muscle and lose fat at the fastest possible rate. Many manufacturers offer products which they claim will have miraculous effects, so it can be hard to cut through the marketing speak and come up with something which will actually give you results. Of course, nothing except serious drugs will cause you to get a six-pack in a week, so don’t expect miracles!
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. When scientists first discovered it, they believed that our primary source was dietary, causing them to label it as a vitamin. In fact, the chemical is a ‘prohormone’ which is generated in our skin during exposure to sunlight.
Whilst vitamin D is present in certain foods, it is very difficult to get enough of it in this manner alone. Once inside the body, the substance has a whole range of effects. It’s one of the most researched chemicals at the moment due to its potential to treat a variety of illnesses.
For example, a recent study showed that higher vitamin D intake is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. We also know that vitamin D is essential for our mental well being. Lack of sunlight during the winter months contributes to depression; a phenomenon known as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or SAD. This can be treated with vitamin D supplementation.
How Does it Affect Muscle Building, and How Much Should I Take?
Aside from its other beneficial effects, vitamin D is intimately involved in the production of testosterone. As you’ll probably be aware, testosterone is essential for building muscle and losing fat and is an important hormone to bear in mind if you’re getting fit. One study showed that getting vitamin D up to healthy levels could increase testosterone by 20% – and plenty of us are suffering from unhealthy levels thanks to our sedentary, indoor lifestyles.
Taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement of 2000-4000IU each day is a great way to make sure that you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin.