Soccer Superstar Michael Lahoud Says Vitamin D Improved His Stamina and His GameDecember 2015
By Loretta Grantham
Soccer star Michael Lahoud was nearing 30 and wanted an edge.
“When I played in college, youth and talent got me through,” says Philadelphia Union midfielder, 29, who graduated from Wake Forest University in 2008 and was a first-round draft pick for Chivas USA, a former Major League Soccer team based in Los Angeles, before joining Union three years ago.
“By the end of college, I’d stopped drinking soda and eating fast food. But that was pretty much it as far as taking care of myself. When you excel as an athlete, you’re told most of your life how special and talented you are. But at the professional level, you realize that everyone’s special and talented, and in order to consistently stay at the top of your game, you have to do something more.”
What Lahoud did, upon the advice of Union strength-and-conditioning coach Kevin Miller, was to begin supplementing with vitamin D. And the results, the player says, have been remarkable.
“I noticed an immediate impact within about two weeks, especially more energy,” he says. “But not in the sense of drinking an energy booster and getting a jolt—energy in a consistent, sustained way. I’m not a morning person by trade, but I get paid to be a morning person, and I started to feel less foggy when I got woke up. I could dedicate that extra energy to doing more training and the other work that a good pro needs to do.”
Vitamin D has long been linked to strong bones by aiding in the metabolism of calcium. It also may help lower the risk of degenerative disease. By directly influencing over 200 human genes, vitamin D notably binds to many genes associated with autoimmune disease and cancer, which has researchers studying vitamin D’s potential benefits beyond bone health. The versatile vitamin is also involved in muscle function, the respiratory system, and brain development.
“I’m always reading about supplements because as a coach, you’re constantly looking for ways to give your players an advantage,” says Kevin Miller. “Obviously strong bones are important. But power, speed, and recovery from exertion are also key factors. Anything that can reduce the chance of injury or illness is critical when it comes to an athlete.”
Team Credits Vitamin D For Its Comeback
Vitamin D started to gain locker-room respect about five years ago after the Chicago Blackhawks, following a 50-year championship drought, won the Stanley Cup in 2010. The hockey team credited its comeback, in part, to significantly fewer injuries after most players started taking a daily 5,000 IU vitamin D supplement that season. (The Blackhawks captured the Cup again three years later.)
Study Shows Effects
Also in 2010, researchers measured the vitamin D levels of all 89 New York Giants football players in the spring, then compared the results to data on players who’d missed a game or practice during the previous season due to injury. The results, presented in 2011 at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in San Diego, showed that the average vitamin D level of players who sustained injuries was about 20% lower than that of uninjured players regardless of age, height, weight, or body mass index (BMI).
“I was watching the Blackhawks while they were on their way to winning the Stanley Cup the second time, and they mentioned vitamin D again,” Lahoud says, referring to the hockey team’s 2012-2013 season. “It was funny to think that they turned themselves around with a supplement. I was really inspired by their story, and after we had a rough start to our season, [Coach Miller] brought up vitamin D, and he started the vitamin D challenge.”
Miller asked Union players to take a blood test to measure their initial levels of vitamin D and then challenged them to increase their numbers.
“My number one goal for the players is to keep them healthy,” says Miller. “Michael was great. He supplemented for about a year, and after we had the whole team tested again, he had the highest score.”
Lahoud noted that dark skin makes it even harder to maintain adequate vitamin D levels because it inhibits ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, which is a precursor to the body making vitamin D. “After I began supplementing, my levels rose into the 80s (ng/dL),” he says.
Nutritional scientists recommend an optimal 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level of between 50 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL.
The current daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is only 600 IU, but widespread evidence of vitamin D deficiencies prompted researchers to increase that number to a daily intake of 1,000 IU. Life Extension® suggests that healthy adults supplement each day with 2,000-8,000 IU of vitamin D and have a blood test done to measure 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels about 45 days later.
Miller, 43, a Union coach since 2010, is not just a trainer but also a triathlete who pursues peak fitness. He has competed three times in the grueling Ironman Lake Placid in New York and says that he, too, has experienced the performance boost of vitamin D.
“I recall reading about vitamin D in Life Extension magazine, but I hadn’t taken any myself at the time. The article recommended supplementing even if you spend time in the sun because of the weather, sunblock, and other things that affect your body’s ability to produce an optimal level. I know Life Extension® is a very reputable company with safe products, so that’s the brand I recommend.”
Lahoud, for example, takes Life Extension®’s Vitamins D and K with Sea-IodineTM, which contains 5,000 IU of D to facilitate calcium absorption into the bloodstream and 2,100 mcg of vitamin K to transport calcium from the bloodstream into the bone. The midfielder, at Miller’s recommendation, also takes L-carnitine, curcumin, zinc, and fish oil.
Feeling Fit On The Field
“I feel more prepared when I take my supplements every day,” says Lahoud, an American citizen who plays internationally for his native country of Sierra Leone in high-profile tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations. “I sometimes have very long travel days to compete against the best players in the world, and I get an extra sense of being ready for the world stage if I take supplements on a regular basis.”
The defensive powerhouse, who says his position requires him to be one of the fittest on the field, emphasizes that you don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from vitamin D.
“It’s about doing your best consistently, whether you’re a sports star, business leader, or just an everyday person. The way to do that is to create and stick to habits that involve taking care of yourself, including nutritional support. I’ve seen firsthand that vitamin D gives you the energy and focus to handle whatever life throws at you.”
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption as well as the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. It also provides a protective effect against many diseases and conditions, such as type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Researchers also say that the steroid hormone:
- Boosts immunity,
- Supports the brain and nervous system,
- Regulates insulin levels,
- Strengthens lung function and heart health, and
- Influences the expression of genes involved in cancer growth.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.