Two studies have linked vitamin D supplementation with increased athletic performance. The first, conducted by researchers at the U.K.’s Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the University of Wolverhampton and published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, studied the effect of vitamin D supplements on ballet dancers. The group of dancers who were given the vitamin showed greater improvements in strength and higher vertical jumps than those not taking supplements. They also experienced fewer injuries than the control group. Another study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences conducted tests on a variety of professional athletes and found reduced sprint times and increased vertical jumps with vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D can be obtained from food (fatty fish, orange juice, milk), supplements, or sunlight. Above the 35th latitude, you can’t absorb vitamin D from the sun in the winter months, meaning everyone in the U.S., barring those in the Deep South and the Southwest, are at risk for deficiency between November and March. If you struggle to get the necessary amounts, supplements are a great option; however, taking them unnecessarily can be harmful, and at the very least pointless. Ask your doctor to measure your levels the next time you have an appointment before deciding to take vitamin D supplements.
Originally published in October 2014