Showering and bathing habits also impact Vitamin D levels. This is a quirky piece of information, but it does make sense: showering, swimming or getting in a hot tub immediately after sun exposure may promote the loss of the newly synthesized vitamin D due to sloughing off of the top layer of skin. This is a likely cause of for many cyclists who are deficient in vitamin D despite plenty of sun exposure.
The recommendation is to postpone bathing for three hours post sun exposure. If this is not an option, you may want to begin use of supplements or dietary changes to meet your needs.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in our everyday health. For cyclists, it is important not to neglect our vitamin D requirements. More stress is placed on the body during training, and a deficiency could affect immune system health and performance on the bike. Here's a summary of what you should keep in mind as an athlete:
- Low vitamin D can increase the risk for low bone density, stress fractures, acute illness, injury and suboptimal muscle performance.
- It's important to have your vitamin D tested for deficiencies before it becomes problematic.
- While a serum level of 25 to 30 is needed, a concentration of over 40 is preferable.
- A serum level of 25 can be maintained by safe sun exposure or supplementation.
- Supplementation is needed for all athletes during the winter if you live at latitudes greater than 35-degrees north.
- Athletes with a history of frequent illness, bone and joint injury, muscle pain or overtraining may benefit from a vitamin D assessment.
- The best way to stay healthy and give your body the amount of vitamin D needed to function properly is through a combination of safe sun exposure, diet and supplementation.