Performance Enhancing Vitamin

Sunshine SteroiD3 : Performance Enhancing Vitamin


Have you ever heard of the Sunshine Steroid?

Did you know that vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) was misclassified as a vitamin back when it was discovered? The active form of vitamin D3 is actually a steroid hormone. More specifically, vitamin D3 is a pleomorphic steroid hormone, meaning it can change into different types of steroid hormones. Sunlight gives us the most potent steroid hormone in the human body!

When you combine the German and Russian research with the modern English research on vitamin D and athletic performance, the conclusion is obvious:

Vitamin D can be found at your local pharmacy or health store.

Sufficient levels ( minimum 50ng/ml of 25-hydroxyvitaminD3 in blood) of vitamin D improves SPEED, BALANCE, REACTION TIME, MUSCLE MASS and STRENGTH. (2000-5000 IU/day is a safe amount to take to reach sufficient levels)

  1. German and Russian Olympic athletes have used UVB radiation to strengthen their performance.
  2. Athletic performance peaks in the summer and is lowest in the winter , the same as sunlight and vitamin D.
  3. Vitamin D stimulates growth of muscle fibers that are critical to athletic ability.
  4. Neuromuscular performance improves with higher vitamin D blood levels.
  5. Vitamin D has been found to improve both balance and reaction time.

I discovered that there are five totally independent bodies of research that all converge on an inescapable conclusion: vitamin D will improve athletic performance in vitamin D deficient people (and that includes most people). Even more interesting is who published the most direct literature, and when. Are you old enough to remember when the Germans and Russians won every Olympics in the ’60s and ’70s? Well, it turns out that the most convincing evidence that vitamin D improves athletic performance was published in old German and Russian medical literature.

If you are vitamin D deficient, the medical literature indicates that the right amount of vitamin D will make you faster, stronger, improve your balance and timing, etc. How much it will improve your athletic ability depends on how deficient you are to begin with. How good an athlete you will be depends on your innate ability, training, and dedication.”

“However, peak athletic performance also depends upon the neuromuscular cells in your body and brain having unfettered access to the steroid hormone, activated vitamin D. How much activated vitamin D is available to your brain, muscle, and nerves depends on the amount of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your blood. In turn, how much 25-hydroxyvitamin D is in your blood depends on how much vitamin D you put in your mouth or how often you expose your skin to UVB light.

Five converging—but totally separate—lines of scientific evidence leave little doubt that vitamin D improves athletic performance. There is actually a sixth line of evidence that i left out due to its complexity: the two studies I found on muscle strength and vitamin D receptor polymorphisms (genetic variations), both were positive. Anyway, the scientific evidence that UVB radiation, either from the sun or a sunbed, will improve athletic performance is overwhelming and the mechanism is almost certainly vitamin D production. Peak athletic performance will probably occur with 25OHD levels of about 50 ng/mL, a level that can be obtained through the use of supplements as well.”

“All that is missing is a big time professional or college team identifying, and then treating, their elite athletes who are vitamin D deficient. Can you imagine what such performance-enhancing effects would do for basketball players, the majority of which are dark skinned and practice and play indoors all winter? Or gymnasts? Weight lifters? Can you imagine what it might do for those chronic neuromuscular injuries which are so common in sports medicine?

A word of caution, though. The above studies suggest that taking too much vitamin D (more than 5,000 IU/day) may actually worsen athletic performance. So take the right amount, not all you can swallow. Take enough to keep your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels around 50 ng/mL, year-round. Easier yet, regularly use the sun in the summer and a sunbed (once a week should be about right) in the winter—with care not to burn.

When you think about it, none of this should surprise anyone. Every bodybuilder knows that steroid hormones can improve athletic performance and they certainly increase muscle mass. Barry Bonds knows they increase timing and power. Activated vitamin D is as potent a steroid hormone as exists in the human body. However, unlike other steroids, levels of activated vitamin D in muscle and nerve tissue are primarily regulated by sun exposure. That’s right, the rate-limiting step for the autocrine function of activated vitamin D is under your control and depends on how much daily vitamin D you receive. It’s ironic that many athletes now avoid the sun. Organized baseball is even promoting sun avoidance and sunblocks. The ancient Greeks knew better; they had their elite athletes train on the beach and in the nude.

So the level of vitamin D (50 ng/mL) associated with peak athletic performance is the very same level that recent studies show also helps to prevent cancer, diabetes, hypertension, influenza, multiple sclerosis, major depression, cognitive decline, etc. But who cares about all that disease stuff old people get! We’re talking about important stuff here: speed, balance, reaction time, muscle mass and strength, squats, reps.

John Jacob Cannell MD

For more detailed information on the research, check the Vitamin D Newsletter March 2007 from, the most dependable vitamin D information source.


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