The Sunshine Vitamin

The Sunshine Vitamin


As we round out the month of October, it is important for us to discuss staying healthy and active this winter. While Coloradoans are able to enjoy sunshine despite cold temperatures, here are a couple of things we know.

  • Nearly 50% of Americans have low vitamin D levels.
  • Since the 1930s, vitamin D has been proven to improve athletic performance (among other health benefits).


Vitamin D, (AKA the “sunshine vitamin”) is a still hot topic in research here are more things we know about the vitamin when the body has an adequate amount:


  • Plays a large role in calcium & phosphorus absorption
  • Needed for bone development and strength
  • Contributes to muscle strength
  • Reduces risk for stress fractures
  • When the body has enough vitamin D, best athletic performance occurs
  • Helps immune function
  • Fights inflammation
  • Aids nervous system function
  • Promotes cardiovascular health
  • May play a role in preventing cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease


As it relates to boot camp, time and time again vitamin D has been proven to be a key player in muscle strength. In fact, in one study swimmers used to train under sunlamps to get extra vitamin D and soon enough, their performance improved. Additionally, having enough vitamin D in the body has been proven to increase vertical jumps of athletes because it increased their muscle strength.


We are able to get some vitamin D from food whether the food has it naturally or happens to have it added in (fortified). This website includes more information about vitamin D, as well as a list of food sources to be mindful of. The bad news is, food usually does not provide our bodies with enough of the vitamin. On the up side, our skin can make vitamin D from sunlight exposure (in the right conditions). Hence the nickname the “sunshine vitamin”.


But if you live in Colorado with an abundance of sunshine and outdoor activities, what can you do if you find out you have a low level of vitamin D? When food and sunshine aren’t enough for your body to reap the benefits of adequate vitamin D levels, talk to your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin D supplement. The recommended daily intake is 600 international units (IU), however if you discover your levels are in the low range, you may need more to reach a normal level. Please be mindful that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be harmful in excessive amounts, so supplementing with the guidance and monitoring of a healthcare provider is important.

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