Since the coronavirus pandemic started taking over the world, people have been looking for ways to boost their immune system and fight off disease. One of the most popular conversation topics that has come to light recently is about the benefits of vitamin D for men and whether it’s worth taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
In this article we’ll be covering everything you need to know about the effects of vitamin D, what the correct dosage of vitamin D is for men, and 3 amazing ways having more of it might improve your life.
What is Vitamin D (Calciferol)?
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is fat-soluble vitamin that is produced when sunlight comes into contact with your body.
You can also find vitamin D in a few foods, but the most common method of supplementation is in the form of a tablet.
Vitamin D plays a part in a whole host of bodily functions, such as:
- Keeping bones strong and healthy
- Improving immune function
- Muscle growth
If you live in a country such as Thailand, Australia, or Mexico, chances are you’re not going to be deficient in vitamin D.
However, for those of us further north of the equator – and especially in the UK – it’s difficult to get adequate levels of sunlight all year round.
This is where supplementation comes in.
The problem is, there is so much confusion and misinformation surrounding the vitamin that it’s difficult to know what to do.
Should you supplement vitamin D? How much should you take? What happens if I take too much vitamin D? And so the list goes on.
Fortunately, we’ve done the dirty work for you to bring you an article covering everything you need to know about vitamin D, backed up by well-researched science and anecdotal evidence.
3 Benefits of Vitamin D for Men
Let’s be honest, this is why you’re reading the article. You want to know exactly what vitamin D does for men and whether you should be taking it.
First off, you probably should invest in a high quality vitamin D supplement. Over 20% of people are deficient in vitamin D in the UK  (although I think the number is much higher), and now that we’re going into winter while in a pandemic, it’s more crucial than ever that you keep your vitamin D levels topped up.
Secondly, even if your levels of vitamin D are slightly lower than they should be, the benefits you’ll get from having healthy amounts of the vitamin in your body are genuinely life-changing – as you’ll find out now.
Vitamin D Can Boost Testosterone Levels
If you haven’t already read our article on the importance of boosting testosterone for men, go and check it out now.
Basically, as men, testosterone is as close to a miracle drug as we can get. It affects everything from energy, motivation, mood, sexual health, muscle growth and more.
Therefore, it’s important for us to do everything we can to keep our testosterone at a healthy level. And, as research shows, vitamin D could play an important part in boosting your testosterone.
One study by Pilz et al tested the effects of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone over the course of a year. Over 150 participants embarked on a year-long weight-loss program, and half of the group took a placebo every day whereas the other half were given 3300IU of vitamin D.
After one year, subjects in the vitamin D group experienced a significant increase in their levels of testosterone. Total testosterone went up by 30% on average, and free testosterone increased by almost 20% .
Another study carried out by Holt et al examined the relationship between testosterone and vitamin D levels in young, healthy men, as well as those that have had a testicle removed due to cancer surgery.
They found, after testing nearly 350 men, that those suffering from a vitamin D deficiency had estrogen levels 18-19% higher than men with healthy levels of vitamin D. If testosterone is what makes us men, estrogen is what makes women, well, women. Everyone has some estrogen in their body, but if it gets too high it will start to have severe negative effects on you – especially if you’re a man.
Therefore, by increasing our vitamin D to healthy levels we can help lower the proportion of estrogen in our body and start increasing testosterone. It’s a win-win.
Your Energy Levels Could Skyrocket
When you picture someone that spends all day inside and rarely leaves the house, low energy is probably one of the first things that comes to mind.
Ignoring the lack of exercise, healthy diet, poor sleep, and other factors – one of the first things this person should do to increase their energy is to get out in the sun – or, so we tell them.
Fortunately, getting people to go outside hasn’t become an old wives’ tale yet (although that might change in the future), and there’s some pretty hard evidence that all of us could benefit from spending more time in the sunshine.
Over 30% of people that attend a doctor’s clinic in the USA suffer from fatigue , and of these patients almost 80% of them suffer from vitamin D deficiency. As a result, one group of researchers carried out an experiment on 116 patients where they noted their fatigue levels before and after administering ergocalciferol therapy over the course of 5 weeks.
They found that levels of fatigue decreased significantly after 5 months of vitamin D supplementation.
The fatigue test being used in the study asks you a series of questions in 5 different categories, and your total score is indicative of your current level of fatigue. The total score is 96, and before starting therapy the average fatigue score of those with low vitamin D was 33. After 5 weeks of vitamin D supplementation the average score was reduced to 11. That’s a huge difference, and significant results aren’t overly common in research like this .
Vitamin D Improves Bone Strength and Muscle Density
It might be last on the last but this is arguably one of the most important benefits of vitamin D for men, especially if you’re a dad over 40.
As we get older our muscles get weary, our bones get weaker, and start feeling sluggish. How often do we just resign ourselves to the fact that this is a normal part of ageing? Did you ever consider that you might not be getting enough vitamin D?
As it turns out, increasing your vitamin D intake could help you get stronger, build more muscle, and improve your performance. How? Let’s jump into the science.
An analysis was done on all available studies into the relationship between vitamin D and muscular function – 16 in total. The majority of the tests were done on people above the age of 50, and half of the studies concluded that there was a positive link between increased vitamin D levels and improved performance .
However, the reason there were so few studies involved in the analysis – just 16 – was because they were only looking for trials that included people who had low levels of physical activity and vitamin D.
In their words, “In most observational studies, vitamin D status correlates positively with muscle strength and postural stability […] as physical activity is associated with vitamin D status as well as muscle strength…”
So, anyone that was already active and had high levels of muscular performance and vitamin D weren’t seen as valid subjects. I feel like it should be the opposite.
If there are so many people experiencing the benefits of vitamin D through increased physical activity, shouldn’t that be of some statistical importance?
Regardless, whichever way you look at it, it’s impossible to ignore the correlation between muscle growth and increased levels of vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Should Men Take?
I’ve gone on about the numerous benefits of vitamin D for men at length. We’ve dived into the science, and it looks pretty conclusive.
Vitamin D is an amazing supplement for men over 40!
But, the real question is how much vitamin D should you be taking for optimal performance? Well, like most things, it depends.
The first thing I’d recommend is to get a blood test to determine your current levels of vitamin D. That way you’re not self-medicating and trying to navigate blindly through the dark.
However, if this is something you don’t want to do, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I live in an area that lacks sunlight? (UK, Northern Europe, Canada etc.)
- If not, do I get outside in the sunshine regularly? (running, walking, working, playing)
- Is my lifestyle healthy and am I suffering from low mood, weak joints, poor immune system etc?
- What season is it? (autumn and winter will result in less sunlight)
Using these 4 questions it should be fairly clear if you’ll benefit from taking an extra dose of vitamin D each day.
If you’re a 25-year-old surfer in California that spends a lot of time outdoors, you probably don’t need it. However, if you’re an office worker in London during winter, chances are you’re deficient.
The recommended dosage of vitamin D for men is anywhere from 800IU to 3000IU, and should be taken as an oral supplement once a day with food (I recommend breakfast or lunch).
Also, avoid taking vitamin D late at night as this will just confuse your body. It’s dark outside and you just received a huge hit of the sunshine vitamin? Your brain won’t like it very much.
Can you overdose on vitamin D?
Surprisingly, yes, you can overdose on vitamin D. If you take an excessive amount of vitamin D each day (>5,000-10,000IU) for an extended period of time, you will cause a build up of calcium in your body (hypercalcaemia). This can result in damaged kidneys and weak bones.
However, it will take a while for you to reach this point and if you stick to the guidelines it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Vitamin D supplements can be a fantastic tool to add to your arsenal, especially as there are so many benefits of vitamin D for men over 40.
That being said, nothing will beat spending more time outside in the sun (with adequate protection of course). Whether you start walking at lunch times or on the weekend, take up hiking, running, or cycling, or even just get out and about with the kids, it’s up to you.
The goal is to achieve balance and implement healthy habits in a way that will make it easy for you to become a fitter healthier dad.