Many people know that sunlight activates vitamin D production in the body. Some know the benefits of vitamin D range from strengthening bones, fighting cancer and preventing a list full of diseases. What you may not know is that sunlight also might help us build muscle and improve athletic performance.
Real magazine recently reported that Dr. John Cannell and Dr. Marc Sorenson (both vitamin D advocates), are collaborating on a book about the subject, “Solar Power for Optimal Health ”. The book will cite research results from the ‘50’s to the present that provide evidence that vitamin D is related to athletic conditioning.
Here are a few points the researchers analyzed from the data, persuading them to link sunlight and human strength:
- Athletic performance peaked when vitamin D levels peaked, and when one decreased so did the other.
- 40 years of research on Eastern European athletes supports the theory that sunlight-induced vitamin D improved the performance of top athletes.
- Vitamin D has been related to musculoskeletal performance and even increases the size and number of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
How much vitamin D is enough?
Government recommendations at the moment range from 200-600 international units (IU) daily. But vitamin D advocates say these levels aren’t helping us much. They believe that since our society is spending more time indoors, many of us are already deficient. To get our vitamin D levels in the bloodstream up to sufficient levels, most experts now suggest we need 1,000-2,000 IU daily. And several vitamin D experts even think some people would benefit from up to 5,000-10,000 IU daily!
Dr. Cannell explains that “when fair-skinned people sunbathe for 20 minutes in the summer, they produce about 20,000 IU…an athlete would have to drink 200 glasses of American milk (100 IU in an 8-oz. glass) or take 50 standard multi-vitamins (400 IU) to obtain the same amount orally.”
By the way, Real magazine says dark skin may need 5-10 times more sun exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D than light skin. Other variables to vitamin D production include age and amount of skin exposed to the sun.
Other sources of vitamin D:
Cod liver oil (1tsp) – 400 – 1,000 IU
Salmon (fresh, wild, 3.5 oz.) – 600 – 1,000 IU
Salmon (farmed, 3.5 oz.) – 100 – 250 IU
Fortified milk (8 oz) – 100 IU
Fortified orange juice – 100 IU
As you can see, sunlight kicks butt as a vitamin D source every time.
So what do you think: Is sunlight an all natural steroid? Will workout outdoors help you get stronger, faster?