Influence of Vitamin D Supplementation by Sunlight or Oral D3 on Exercise Performance

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PurposeTo determine the relationship between vitamin D status and exercise performance in a large, prospective cohort study of young men and women across seasons (study 1). Then, in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, to investigate the effects on exercise performance of achieving vitamin D sufficiency (serum 25(OH)D ≥ 50 nmol·L−1) by a unique comparison of safe, simulated-sunlight and oral vitamin D3 supplementation in wintertime (study 2).MethodsIn study 1, we determined 25(OH)D relationship with exercise performance in 967 military recruits. In study 2, 137 men received either placebo, simulated sunlight (1.3× standard erythemal dose in T-shirt and shorts, three times per week for 4 wk and then once per week for 8 wk) or oral vitamin D3 (1000 IU·d−1 for 4 wk and then 400 IU·d−1 for 8 wk). We measured serum 25(OH)D by high-pressure liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and endurance, strength and power by 1.5-mile run, maximum dynamic lift and vertical jump, respectively.ResultsIn study 1, only 9% of men and 36% of women were vitamin D sufficient during wintertime. After controlling for body composition, smoking, and season, 25(OH)D was positively associated with endurance performance (P ≤ 0.01, ΔR2 = 0.03–0.06, small f2 effect sizes): 1.5-mile run time was ~half a second faster for every 1 nmol·L−1 increase in 25(OH)D. No significant effects on strength or power emerged (P > 0.05). In study 2, safe simulated sunlight and oral vitamin D3 supplementation were similarly effective in achieving vitamin D sufficiency in almost all (97%); however, this did not improve exercise performance (P > 0.05).ConclusionsVitamin D status was associated with endurance performance but not strength or power in a prospective cohort study. Achieving vitamin D sufficiency via safe, simulated summer sunlight, or oral vitamin D3 supplementation did not improve exercise performance in a randomized-controlled trial.

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