Nearly 60 percent of the athletes had abnormal vitamin D levels and 10 percent had a severe vitamin D deficiency. Of the 14 players who missed at least one game due to a strain injury, 86 percent of them had inadequate D levels.
That’s because a lack of the vitamin can hinder your muscle strength and development, research suggests. In fact, people who don’t get enough vitamin D are 77 percent weaker, according to a University of Tulsa study.
Plus, whether you’re an athlete or not, there’s a decent chance you’re not getting enough of the nutrient: About 42 percent of U.S. adults are vitamin D deficient, according to the journal Nutrition Research.
“Although our study looked at high performance athletes, it’s probably a good idea for anyone engaging in athletic activities to give some thought to vitamin D,” said lead researcher Scott Rodeo, M.D. in a press release. “Indeed, adequate levels of vitamin D are important to maintain good muscle and bone health in people of all ages.”
And it’s not just your muscles and bones that may the price: A lack of vitamin D increases your risk for heart attack and erectile dysfunction, too.
The Endocrine Society recommends consuming 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day. Meet your quota by loading up on D-rich foods like fatty fish and fortified milk, which contains about 100 IU per cup, to increase your intake—or try a supplement like this one.