A SEARCH for athletes named Dee turns up a mixed bag: There’s Dee Virgil Fondy, who played from 1951 to 1958 and was the last player to bat at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dee Hardison, a defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs in the 1970s and 1980s. And “Dee” Brown, who spent 12 seasons in the NBA and won the league’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1991 with a “no-look” slam dunk.
Their strengths were muscle and moxie. Something Dee definitely contributes — vitamin D, that is.
A study out of Trinity College Dublin reveals that just as regular exercise is essential for maintaining muscle mass and function as you age, so is sufficient vitamin D.
The researchers tested blood levels of D in 4,157 folks 60-plus and then assessed their grip strength and tested balance, agility, gait speed and ability to rise from a chair without using their hands. They found that those with the lowest blood level of vitamin D — below 30 nmol/L, the level signaling deficiency and onset of bone disease — had twice the muscle weakness and three times the difficulty with muscle performance as folks with a level of 50 or more.
For major-league performance as you age, get an annual blood test to determine what supplementation you need to achieve a level of 50 to 80. Until then, if you’re over 50, take 2,000 IU of D2 or D3 daily. You can also get vitamin D from foods, such as salmon, most cultivated mushrooms and D-fortified cereals and soymilk.