Loving the BITE: Vitamin D for Athletic Performance and Health

“There’s no way I’m deficient…I get plenty of sunshine.” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it many, many times.  And yet, athlete after athlete is found deficient.  If you’ve never had your Vitamin D levels checked, you may be in for a surprise.  And, if you find your motivation and mood wavering and eventually diminishing each year in the cold-weather months, you may just find out why.

In fact, it’s not only an issue for athletes, but it’s estimated that at least 25-50% of adults in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D; which is a bit ironic, as it is the only vitamin that our bodies are able to produce (with adequate sunlight).  However, it may be this ability to produce it that gives us a false sense of optimism and a lack of urgency in eating Vitamin D food sources and supplementing.  There are many reasons why we become deficient, and even more reasons to make sure you’re not.

So, what are the implications for cyclists and how can you get enough?

Start with our recipe of the week.

Recipe of the Week:  Fresh Herbed Salmon


Per Serving:

  • 4-6 oz. Wild Salmon fillet or steak
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped Basil (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Additional optional fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, parsley
  • 1 tsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare Broiler.
  2. For easy clean-up, line a baking dish with foil.  Place Salmon fillets inside.
  3. Drizzle oil over salmon, distributing as evenly as possible.
  4. Sprinkle salmon with basil, oregano (and other herbs), capers, and garlic.
  5. Squeeze lemon wedge over salmon.
  6. Cover dish with foil, cut vents in foil.
  7. Broil ~10-15 minutes, until centers of fillets are cooked through and flaky.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*** Note: Garlic may turn greenish-blue from acid in lemon juice.  It is still fine to eat it!


It’s long been known that Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium, and therefore, for bone health.  In fact, it was historically thought that the main benefit of Vitamin D was to reduce risk of rickets.  In the last two decades, however, more and more research is finding that Vitamin D’s reach goes far beyond bones.  In fact, it has significant implications on overall health and wellness, athletic performance, and mood.  Here’s what every cyclist needs to know:

Vitamin D for Athletic Performance:

Reduces Inflammation: After intense exercise, elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines circulate throughout athletes’ bodies.  Vitamin D, along with omega-3 fats from fish oil, reduce the production of cytokines, while increasing the production of anti-inflammatory components.  This can improve recovery, reduce fatigue, and improve overall health.

Improves Immune Function: In studies, Vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with colds, influenza, and respiratory infections. On the other hand, adequate levels of Vitamin D trigger our immune system macrophage cells to release antibacterial peptides, which play a role in infection prevention.  If you want to stay well this Winter, get your Vitamin D.

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