Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present but found in very few foods, it is added to others, and is available as a dietary supplement.
It is also produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. It seems natural to go outdoors and enjoy the sunshine especially during the summer months and major health benefits are gained from the body’s ability to make Vitamin D from exposure to the sun.
There are now reports that vitamin D stimulates the growth of muscle fibres and balance and reaction times which is essential for athletes and also for general health. In this Olympic year it appears that athletes who train in sunnier climates often have a greater success rate in outdoor sports such as track and field.
In addition Vitamin D helps bone growth and strength and bones can become brittle when its not available to the body in sufficient amounts. There appears to have been a U turn by agencies such as Cancer UK who are now advising that everyone should try and get at least 15 minutes in the sun a day. In addition scientists are saying that vitamin D can protect against diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. A study found that arteries are less likely to stiffen if there are good vitamin D levels in the body.
While sunlight is the best source of vitamin D this can be difficult in the British winters and its best then to eat foods that have a good source of it such as cod liver oil, salmon, eggs, mushrooms and fortified cereals.
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