Do you supplement with vitamin D? If not, you may want to start based on new findings shared at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure," Dr. Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, co-author of the study, said.

Researchers from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh gave 13 healthy adults 50mcg of vitamin D per their age and weight. These supplements were given over the course of two weeks. Compared to the placebo group, the experimental group had lower blood pressure as well as lower levels of cortisol. The experimental group also had a larger work capacity during a cycling test.

These aren’t the only benefits of vitamin D, however. The nutrient has long been associated with improved bone health, immune health and lowered risk of cancers. Vitamin D has also been shown to improve cognition and mood.

The most common way humans receive vitamin D is through exposure to the sun, where the ultraviolet radiation is synthesized into a usable form by the human body. According to, although most people are not deficient in vitamin D, they lack an optimal level and are encouraged to supplement through dietary means.

During the winter season, less sun exposure leads to an even higher prevalence of low vitamin D levels. Anecdotally, this has led many to believe in a link between low vitamin D levels and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However, several studies have refuted this claim.

Researchers will soon be testing their findings on additional populations.

"Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners,” Revuelta said.

Vitamin D has been shown to play a key component in human health, and researchers are looking for more ways to study the nutrient.

"Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and a higher risk for certain cancers," Dr. Emad Al-Dujaili, lead author of the study, said. "Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem."

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