Vitamin D: Let The Sunshine In...

It is very important to gymnastics performance to have well-balanced nutrition and well-designed lyfestyle. "The 'good nutrition' part of this equation involves eating a wide variety of foods that are high in complex corbohydrates, moderate in protei n, and relatively low in fat" (Crantson & Deutch). Here the purpose of all this is to expose an athlete to all the nutrients that are very important to his or her health and gymnastic performance. The most important nutrient is calcium. It is needed to keep the bones strong. "Inadequate calcium intake is associated with weak bones that are more prone to development of stress fractures, and injury all too common in gymnastics" (Crantson & Deutch). Whatever the amount of calcium, by itself, the gymnast has in his or her bones isn't enough. That is why Vitamin D plays a key role in this cituation. It assures that the intake of calcium is properly absorbed into the body.

Calcium is very important in the health of bones, but it is also very important part of the blood. "Vatamin D controls the way the body uses calcium by assuring that the blood level of calcium stays constant" (Crantson & Deutch). If there is not eno ugh calcium, then it is taken from the bones to the blood to keep blood level constant, and same way around, if there is enough calcium, then Vitamin D increases the intake of the calcium and rushes more in the blood. Whatever the amount of calcium is ex tra, then it is used to build bones. This is very crucial in development of bones during childhood and young adulthood. "Here's the problem: If you have enough calcium vitamin D, then it's as if you weren't eating calcium because you won't absorb it" ( Crantson & Deutch). This problem might lead to poor development of the bones and to the increase of the risk of stress fractures. "... it is critical that gymnasts get plenty of vitamin D to help absorb the calcium, so critical to strong and healthy bon es" (crantson & Deutch".

There is a limited amount of foods that contain significant amount of vitamin D. Dairy products are the most common among other foods that contain vitamin D. "Four cups of vitamin A & D milk provides 100% of the daily requierment for vitamin D" (Cra ntson & Deutch). Other foods like some fish products and serials also contain vitamin D, although in lesser amounts than dairy products. The only problem with dairy products is vitamin D is also a fat0soluble vitamin. Meaning, vitamin D exists in fat d roplets. you can understand that gymnasts are limited to fat intake, so from that the intake of vitamin D is also limited. "Taking vitamin D supplements is not a good idea, because vitamin D is the most potentially toxic of all the vitamins" (Crantson & Deutch). The other source of viatamin D would be the sun.

Sun's ultraviolet rays changes the cholesterol form on your skin to the vitamin D. From that the vitamin D is than transported to other body parts that are in need of it. The needed sun exposure time to produce vitamin D depends on such factors as skin color, age, and climate. "People with darker skin, older people, and people in northern climates requier more time in the sun than others to produce vitamin D" (Crantson & Deutch). There are no recommendations fro how much sun exposure is needed to produce such vitamin. Due to limited free time, gymnasts tend to get very little sun exposure.

Source: USA Gymnastics Online