One key nutrient that often gets overlooked is Vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and a deficiency can result in lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of bone loss or fracture. Vitamin D has even been linked to increased VO2Max, reduced inflammation (which means faster recovery) and improved immunity. Surprisingly, Vitamin D deficiency has become a worldwide epidemic but many go undiagnosed.
For runners, especially women, Vitamin D is especially important to preventing stress fractures. Many may remember when US marathon great Deena Kastor fractured her foot about 5K into the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. The cause? A Vitamin D deficiency. Recently, several of our runners have mentioned that their doctors discovered a Vitamin D deficiency after they experienced stress fractures or just general lack of normal energy.
So how do you make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D? Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for children and adults ages 1-70 is 600 IU. Exposure to the sun stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D, but using sunscreen and even aging can hinder the body's ability to absorb the sun and produce the nutrient. Vitamin D is not found widely in foods, with the exception of fortified grains and fatty fish like salmon, tuna and fish oils:
|Food||IUs per serving*||Percent DV**|
|Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon||1,360||340|
|Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces||566||142|
|Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces||447||112|
|Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces||154||39|
|Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies)||137||34|
|Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup||115-124||29-31|
|Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV)||80||20|
|Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon||60||15|
|Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines||46||12|
|Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces||42||11|
|Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk)||41||10|
|Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV)||40||10|
|Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce||6||2|
Make sure your multivitamin has sufficient Vitamin D (in addition to calcium), optimally, D3 (cholcalciferol), the most potent form of the vitamin. At your next physical, ask your primary care physician to check your Vitamin D levels- a simple blood test will indicate whether you are getting enough of this important piece of your training and overall health.