Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Short Days and Long Nights

As the nights get longer and colder, the hours of daylight become shorter, meaning that we see less of the sun and are exposed to fewer UV rays.

This is good news for those that burn easily, but its not just sun tans and sun burn that UV rays are responsible for. They also help produce a large proportion of our Vitamin D requirement as sunlight reacts with a precursor of the vitamin on the skin. Vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more common in athletes, partially due to the precautions taken to prevent skin damage from the sun.

While there is no strong evidence to suggest that Vitamin D deficiency leads to under-performance in athletes, it will have effects on their ability to train and recover and on injury risk. Athletes who are are Vitamin D deficient could be at increased risk of minor illnesses and stress fractures, ultimately leading to interruption in training and competition.

Vitamin D, along with Calcium, Phosphorous and Protein, has a key influence on the growth and mineralisation of bones. It is involved in the absorption of calcium, meaning an athlete could have a really good intake of Calcium within their diet, but if the Vitamin D levels are low, this won't be able to have a positive effect on bone growth and strength.

Vitamin D also has a role in immune function, making it an important nutrient for athletes involved in heavy training. 

Its not all doom and gloom though! Although sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D, small amounts can be taken in through the diet, particularly through fish sources - reiterating their importance within our diet.

Good Sources include:
  • Fortified Cereals
  • Eggs
  • Margarine
  • Tuna 
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
So why not enjoy training outside and making the most of the daylight we have at the moment, and take advantage of the sources above in our diet. Simple meal ideas include- Jacket Potato or Pasta with Tuna and Sweetcorn, or an Omelet adding lots of different vegetables for variety and added nutritional benefit. 

1 comment:

  1. We are almost at the point in the year where those who work in offices don't see daylight from one end of the week to the next. If you have an office job, instead of spending your lunchbreak catching up with Facebook, take a walk or run outside. We've been blessed with sunshine recently, so lets make the best of it while it lasts.