3 Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D3 for Men

  • By Performance Lab
  • 7 minute read
3 Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D3 for Men

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that’s involved in a myriad of biological actions. And although a requirement for everyone, vitamin D3 is especially important for men to support muscle growth and development, mood, and fertility.

Providing your body with the nutrition it needs is crucial to stay strong, active, happy, and healthy. While a healthy, balanced, whole foods-based diet is one of the best ways to maximize nutrient intake, supplements can also be helpful.

For men and women alike, vitamin D is essential in brain function, mental health, fertility, hormone synthesis, weight loss, and more.

But for men, it’s one vitamin that shouldn’t be left out. Read on to find out why—and where is the best place to find it.

What Is Vitamin D?

As we said, vitamin D is an essential vitamin that plays a role in many critical biological functions. Despite being widely available in plenty of foods (although the best source is UVB rays from the sun), over 40% of American adults have less than acceptable levels, and a whopping 29% are straight-up deficient 1.

The result? A reduced ability to optimize health.

There’s a fair bit of research on how low vitamin D levels can affect women, but there’s far less research on how it affects men. But before we talk about the benefits of vitamin D3 for men, let’s go over the basics.

Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is a vitamin produced in the body when the skin is exposed to UVB rays from sunlight. The precursor of cholesterol is 7- dehydrocholesterol, and it’s found in the highest concentrations in the skin 2.

When UVB light hits the skin, it’s absorbed by the double bonds in 7-dehydrocholesterol, leading to the opening of the B ring to form pre-vitamin D3, which is then rapidly rearranged to form vitamin D3, the active form.

Most vitamin D3 production happens in the epidermis, which then diffuses into the dermal capillary bed and is transported to the liver to elicit its actions.

Its most studied action is in calcium and phosphorus metabolism, which is required for bone health 3. But it’s also involved in other functions 4-6:

  • Inhibits parathyroid hormone secretion
  • Adaptive and innate immunity
  • Insulin secretion
  • Cellular proliferation and differentiation
  • Thyroid health
  • Gut health and integrity of the gut mucosal lining
  • Mental health

Low vitamin D levels have been associated with several side effects, so meeting (or exceeding) your body’s needs is essential.

But while most vitamins have a “recommended dietary allowance” (RDA), there are no established guidelines for vitamin D3—and recommendations are often lower than most people need.

To achieve a “normal” vitamin D3 test result, you want to see 50 ng/ml or more, requiring about 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for most normal-weight adults 7. Those who are above a healthy BMI will need proportionately more vitamin D3.

Benefits of Vitamin D for Men

Whether male or female, it’s no secret that vitamin D is a must and does a lot to support optimal performance, be it with bone health, brain function, or the immune system.

But apart from some of the well-known benefits of vitamin D for everyone, there are a few specific to men that we want to point out.

1. Supports muscle growth and development

When you think about building muscle, you probably think of supplements like BCAAs, protein, or creatine. But how many people have told you vitamin D can maximize muscle growth?

Realistically, probably none, but as it turns out, increasing your vitamin D3 levels might be the secret to better muscle growth.

That’s because vitamin D regulates several cellular pathways and functions that maintain muscle health 8, 9.

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First, it’s essential for skeletal muscle form and function. Vitamin D receptors are located in nearly every cell in the body, including muscle cells, suggesting that muscles require sufficient vitamin D levels for optimal function.

Adequate vitamin D levels are also required to prevent or reduce the risk of sarcopenia in older adults 10, 11; sarcopenia is a disease characterized by age-related loss of muscle mass.

Research suggests that it may help maintain higher levels of muscle mass due to its role in stimulating the proliferation and differentiation of skeletal muscle fibers, thereby maintaining and improving muscle strength and physical performance.

Although topping up your vitamin D levels isn’t likely to make a massive difference in your performance at the gym, meeting your intake requirements is essential for optimizing muscle health.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to reduced muscle strength and performance, which can lead to muscle atrophy, increased apoptosis (cell death), decreased protein synthesis, and changes in intracellular calcium homeostasis 12, but supplementation has been shown to improve muscle function and strength 13.

2. Boosts mood

Mental health has become a significant area of study over the past few years. For anyone struggling with mental health, plenty of natural supplements can help—including vitamin D.

With over 90% of Americans failing to consume just 400 IU of vitamin D, it’s clear that the sunshine vitamin is an essential component of proper brain function and mental health 14.

As we mentioned before, vitamin D receptors are found throughout the body, and there’s a high concentration of them (and vitamin D metabolites) in the brain, suggesting that the vitamin plays a vital role in brain function 15.

Studies have found that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to depressive feelings. Still, supplementation may help improve mood by reducing negative emotions—and people with major depressive disorder and vitamin D deficiency are most likely to see the most significant benefits from supplementation 16.

But why does it have such powerful effects on mood? Research suggests that vitamin D works with the pineal gland to regulate levels of serotonin and melatonin, both of which are important to sleep and feelings of well-being 17.

3. Promotes male fertility

Females get a lot of attention when it comes to fertility because, traditionally, we only think about them when pregnancy is in question—but men play a 50/50 role in the outcome, and supporting male reproductive health is just as important.

We generally hear about zinc, selenium, vitamins C and E, and the like for male fertility, but studies show that vitamin D’s role in male fertility is promising.

Researchers have found vitamin D receptors and metabolizing enzymes in the testis and spermatozoa, suggesting that it may regulate testis hormone production, semen quality and sperm function, and male fertility 18.

But we know that hypovitaminosis D (deficiency) has adverse effects on semen and hormone function, although the exact role isn’t clear.

On top of that, a 2021 study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health suggests that erectile function, which is a key predictor of male sexual health, directly relies on adequate intake of vitamin D 19.

There you have it: 3 surprising roles of vitamin D for men. If you haven’t been getting enough vitamin D, now is your time to pay attention to your levels and increase your intake to maintain healthy, active sex lives and optimal performance!

What Is The Best Type Of Vitamin D Supplement?

If you’re convinced that a vitamin D supplement might be worth taking, your next question is likely what kind. There are several vitamin D supplements on the market, not all of which are created equal.

First, you want to ensure you’re taking a vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement rather than a vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Studies show that vitamin D3 is more effective at increasing blood levels and up to 87% more potent than D2 20, 21.

Need some help finding a supplement? Performance Lab D3+K2 is the ultimate power duo supporting male health and well-being. It’s ultra-potent liposomal D3 combined with vitamin K2 for maximum absorption and bioactivities to support optimal health and performance.

Alternatively, food is another excellent source of vitamin D3. You’ll find high vitamin D concentrations in cod liver oil, eggs, cold-water fatty fish (salmon, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel), and organ meats.

But supplementation is likely the best route for increasing vitamin D3 levels for vegetarians and vegans.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a man looking to optimize health and performance, don’t neglect vitamin D.

Not only can it improve your gains and progress in the gym, but getting enough of this fat-soluble nutrient is also vital to your reproductive health, energy levels, mood, bone health, and so much more.

If you weren’t convinced that a D3 supplement was worth it, maybe now you are!


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