Even if you keep a good diet and regularly spend time out in the sun during your rounds of golf, you may still not be absorbing as much vitamin D as your body needs to stay on top of your game.

Many people find it difficult to recognize that they are vitamin D deficient without expensive and formal medical testing, and by then they have already put themselves at risk for achy muscles, lower back pain, fatigue, depression, slow recovery, and a weakened immune system, which can all have negative effects on the quality and enjoyment of their golf game.

So the LPGA Women’s Network is proud to announce our partnership with Dr. Travis Wilkes MD, the Medical Director of empowerDX, the online shop for all things home health testing, to explain more about the importance of this essential nutrient and what you can do to best support your overall health and wellbeing from the comfort of your own home.

What does vitamin D actually do in my body?

Vitamin D functions as a hormone in our bodies. We know vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium and good bone health. We also know vitamin D interacts with the nucleus of cells, which is the command center of every cell where our DNA is kept. Emerging research is showing vitamin D can have complex interactions with many organs in our bodies.

How can low vitamin D levels affect my golf game?

Golf is a mental game more than a physical one. Low vitamin D has been shown to lower cognitive performance and mood. Vitamin D supplementation can also help with chronic pain.

Can I have too much vitamin D?

Yes, you can get too much vitamin D from supplements. This can cause many symptoms and health issues. This is why it is important to routinely monitor vitamin D levels with lab tests.

What foods are high in vitamin D? And is food a sufficient source?

Some foods contain vitamin D but usually food is an insufficient source. Most of the foods highest in vitamin D are not consumed regularly in high quantities in Western diets. Examples include: mushrooms, fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks.

What are your thoughts on taking vitamin D supplements?

I am supportive of vitamin D supplementation, but only under medical supervision with regular testing of vitamin D levels.

How much vitamin D can I get from the sun? Does skin color, season and sunscreen affect my body’s production of vitamin D?

That is tough to answer since there are so many variables such as the time of day of exposure, skin color, type and amount of clothing. Sunscreen probably does not affect vitamin D production that much. I generally encourage barriers like hats and clothing with SPF ratings when out in the sun, so I do not think anyone should rely on sunlight as the primary source of vitamin D. The risk of skin cancer and photo-aging are not worth the benefit of vitamin D production when vitamin D is so cheap and available as a supplement.

What’s the best and easiest way to test my vitamin D levels?

Using a reliable, CLIA and CAP certified lab with experience in testing vitamin D levels. All sources of blood are equally reliable in measuring vitamin D levels, so small volume collection like a finger stick is generally the easiest.

Where do I go to get more trustworthy info on all things vitamin D?

We try to keep our empowerDX website updated with new information as it comes out. We vet the information for accuracy using peer-reviewed literature before publishing anything. Otherwise sources like the CDC, NIH, WHO and many leading universities regularly publish information on vitamin D.