Vitamin D is a vital bone nutrient. Additionally, it aids in muscular contraction, nervous system function, and helps the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. There are three ways to get vitamin D: the sun, diet, and supplements.
Research shows that dancers are often vitamin D deficient (Constantini et al., 2010; Wolman et al., 2013). This essential vitamin plays a critical role in bone building and is important during growth phases. It works with calcium, proteins, and other minerals to maintain bone density and prevent stress fractures. Vitamin D acts as a hormone and is involved in immune system function. Most of the vitamin D in the American diet comes from fortified milk, cereals, orange juice, yogurt, cheese and soy beverages. The nutritional facts label will show the vitamin content of a food.
Other sources of vitamin D include:
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin," because your body converts sunlight into vitamin D after it contacts unprotected skin. Remember to avoid extended exposure to sunlight without sunscreen. Because dancers train indoors and may have limited sun exposure, dancers may need to depend on their diet to obtain vitamin D. Needs vary widely, but typically, 800-2000 IU of D3 daily is recommended. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to verify your individual vitamin D needs.
Constantini NW, et al. High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in athletes and dancers. Clin J Sport Med. 2010 Sep;20(5):368-71. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181f207f2.
Wolman R, et al. Vitamin D status in professional ballet dancers: winter vs. summer J Sci Med Sport. 2013 Sep;16(5):388-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.12.010. Epub 2013 Feb 4.