More Vitamin D might help counter Osteoporosis, and improve your cycling
In our last newsletter we published an article by Alan McCubbin about one of the potential risks of cycling, namely the depletion of calcium in your bones, and the possibility of osteoporosis. If you’d like to read that newsletter you can do so here
Today we wanted to discuss another issue which directly bears on the issue of osteoporosis for cyclists.
It is well known that an adequate supply of vitamin D is one of the most important aspects in maintaining bone strength, primarily because vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in the blood, which helps provide calcium to your bones.
Unfortunately research is showing that there is an ever-increasing trend in our society towards vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is a serious health issue. It’s a serious issue not just because vitamin D helps regulate your calcium levels, it’s a serious issue for a number of other reasons as well.
And in particular cyclists need to be aware of the importance of vitamin D, both in helping maintain calcium levels as well as helping to improve their cycling performance.
Numbers of studies have demonstrated that increasing your levels of vitamin D can improve your athletic performance. In the 1950s it was noted that a greater exposure to UV radiation from the sun improved an individual’s athletic performance. It is thought that this is because vitamin D can increase the number of fast twitch muscle fibres, which therefore help in athletic performance, and in particular increasing strength and speed. This is obviously important to cyclists.
And there’s a wide range of other health issues that arise as a result of vitamin D deficiency. It is known that vitamin D helps maintain your immune system, and it’s your immune system which helps protect you against various nasty illnesses. Some of the areas where it is thought that vitamin D can help protect your body is against diabetes, bowel disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and much more.
And vitamin D also helps you maintain optimum muscle function, which is also very important to cyclists.
Most of us are now aware that one of the best ways to increase your level of vitamin D is to spend some time in the sun, and therefore it would seem, as we are cyclists, that we should all be getting plenty of vitamin D each time we go out riding.
Sadly that is not always the case. Usually when cycling most of our body is covered up, and during the summer many of us either cycle early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, or apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Therefore even if we are outdoors, we may not be getting much UV exposure.
It’s also possible to get vitamin D from food, though it is thought to be very difficult to get sufficient from food alone. And as our diet changes, and fresh fruit and vegetables higher in vitamins are more commonly replaced by pizza and burgers which are much lower in vitamins we are all at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
How do you find out if you are deficient in vitamin D? Next time you visit your Doctor ask for a test to determine your vitamin D levels. That should give you much more information on your vitamin D status.
And if, as is likely, you are deficient, then ask your doctor for recommendations as to the best way to increase your levels. One of the more likely recommendations may well be to start taking the appropriate supplements. But only begin taking supplements under your doctor’s supervision. Too much vitamin D can also be a bad thing.
This is an issue for the older cyclist, and for everyone. But don’t just assume, because you’re out in the sun cycling a lot, that vitamin D deficiency won’t affect you. It may well do so. And combined with possible problems that cyclists could face in low levels of bone calcium, it’s an issue we older cyclists ignore at our peril.
Today’s quick tip.
If you’re worried about your vitamin D levels, and am interested in learning more about vitamin D deficiency, including foods that are high in vitamin D to help increase your levels, then read this page