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The low down on Vitamin D

coronavirus dog agility health nutrition Feb 05, 2021

With lots of discussions about Vitamin D boosting the immune system and people taking supplements, how important is it?

There are 2 main types, D2 & D3, and vitamin D is actually classed as a hormone. We get D3 produced in our bodies from exposure to UV sunlight and some animal food sources, like tuna, egg yolks and beef liver. D2 isn't produced naturally by humans, so this comes from plant sources in our diets like mushrooms.

It does support the immune system, especially chronic infections caused by inflammation. Our immune cells are able to use this hormone and it's metabolites to boost our immune system, directly and indirectly, like local support and out sourcing. Which is why the media and many medical professionals are suggesting supplements

There are also studies to show it can improve your sports performance too, if you are deficient this may cause an 'increase risks for stress fractures, acute illness, and suboptimal muscle function' (de la Puente Yagüe, Mirian et al, 2020). So for you as an agility handler this means your body may be more susceptible to injury, and your muscles won't be as responsive. 

Vitamin Ds main role is to soak up the calcium from your intestines for healthy bones. Not getting enough can create soft bones. Too much creates hypercalcemia in the blood amongst other things.

It is stored in your fat cells, it is fat soluble, so if you have a low body fat % you won't be able to store as much as someone who has a higher body fat %. That said obesity can reduce how D is absorbed.

Generally speaking though we don't need to overanalyse this, however, if you have had had bowel mischief like IBS/IBD, weight loss surgery, an eating disorder, history of osteoporosis in family, been a regular juice dieter, a non dairy eater or  on some anti sickness meds you should consider getting your D levels checked, and be mindful of particular diets, especially overly restrictive ones.

Given the current climate it might be worth topping up your D vitamins, and if you are naturally low in this hormone it might improve your performance in the ring too, but don't forget that too much of a good thing could have the opposite effect.

Train Smarter Not Harder


Further reading:

de la Puente Yagüe, Mirian et al. “Role of Vitamin D in Athletes and Their Performance: Current Concepts and New Trends.” Nutrients vol. 12,2 579. 23 Feb. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12020579 

Di Rosa, Michelino et al. “Vitamin D3: a helpful immuno-modulator.” Immunology vol. 134,2 (2011): 123-39. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03482.x

Moriety, C, (2018) 


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