Vitamin D Deficiency in Athletes

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Vitamin D is commonly referenced because the sunshine vitamin since the vitamin’s major supply is attained by way of solar publicity. But, many individuals are vitamin D poor.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that performs a essential function in bone health, muscle perform, adaptive immunity, and lots of human ailments like most cancers, diabetes, and musculoskeletal well being.2



Vitamin D Deficiency

In reality, vitamin D deficiency is a world public well being concern.


About 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency, while over 77% of the general population is insufficient.1 So, what does that imply in case you are an athlete who performs an indoor sport, trains indoors year-round, and barely will get exterior in the course of the day?


What in case you additionally dwell within the northern hemisphere? Odds are you aren’t getting sufficient vitamin D. Inadequate solar publicity can dramatically enhance your danger of vitamin D deficiency. It will possibly result in a wide range of unfavourable well being implications and hinder athletic efficiency.


Analysis has illustrated that vitamin D considerably impacts muscle weak point, ache, stability, and fractures within the growing older inhabitants.1


Vitamin D performs a key function in:1



Vitamin D deficiency happens as blood ranges drop to lower than 20 ng/mL (< nmol/L), whereas vitamin D insufficiency for athletes is outlined as blood ranges reaching between 20-32 ng/mL (50-80 nmol/L).


Analysis has indicated that 40-50 ng/mL (100-125 nmol/L) appears supreme for optimizing athletic efficiency.1


Who’s at Excessive Threat?

The individuals at excessive danger for vitamin D deficiency:1,5



  • Decreased dietary intake: Sure malabsorption syndromes like celiac illness, brief bowel syndrome, gastric bypass, inflammatory bowel ailments
  • Decreased sun exposure. Roughly 50% to 90% of vitamin D is absorbed by way of the pores and skin. Twenty minutes of sunshine day by day, with 40% of pores and skin uncovered, is required to stop deficiency.
  • Aging adults: The power to synthesize vitamin D decreases by as a lot as 75% as we age.
  • Overweight and obese people: Those that carry extra physique fats can enhance their danger of as much as 55% resulting from vitamin D being trapped in adipose tissue and being unavailable within the bloodstream.


See the previous blog on factors that influence vitamin D levels.


Athletes Who Play Indoor Sports activities

Athletes who play indoor sports are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.


Hockey gamers particularly spend a substantial amount of their time coaching, conditioning, and competing indoors, making it troublesome to realize vitamin D by way of solar publicity. So as to add to the statistics, one other research discovered that as a lot as 88% of the inhabitants receives lower than the optimum quantity of vitamin D.3


A number of research hyperlink vitamin D standing to bone well being and the general prevention of bone accidents within the athletic inhabitants.


Analysis and Vitamin D Deficiency

Research have illustrated that insufficient vitamin D ranges are linked to a higher danger of stress fractures in younger women and men revealed within the Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery.4


A study published in the journal, Nutrients assessed vitamin D standing amongst faculty women and men basketball gamers within the season. The gamers have been both allotted a high-dose, low dose, or no vitamin D relying on their circulation 25-hydroxyvitamin D ranges in the beginning of the research to determine the optimum dosage of vitamin D3 supplementation optimum standing.


The findings demonstrated that 13 of the 20 individuals have been vitamin D inadequate at baseline. One other discovering was that of the athletes sampled, and the darker pores and skin pigmentation elevated the danger of vitamin D insufficiency at baseline.


Researchers found that most athletes who were vitamin D insufficient benefited from supplementation of 10,000 IU to improve their status.5


Another study concluded black professional football players have a higher vitamin D deficiency than white players.6


The research additionally means that skilled soccer gamers poor in vitamin D can also have a higher danger of bone fractures.7


Growing energy output is each athlete’s want as it may well translate into improved efficiency on the sphere. Your muscle tissues have a number of key receptor websites for vitamin D, and they’ll assist assist energy manufacturing.1


A research in soccer gamers discovered that growing baseline vitamin D standing over an 8-week interval results in elevated vertical soar and 10-meter dash instances.9


In fact, we want additional analysis on this space to determine the connection between vitamin D ranges and energy output.


Nonetheless, the present literature is promising and that, at minimal, baseline vitamin D ranges must be desired.


Sources of Vitamin D

One of the best vitamin D sources embrace egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified milk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, mackerel.8


Vitamin D wealthy meals sources:


  • 6 oz. fortified yogurt = 80 IU
  • Three oz. of salmon = 794 IU
  • 1 cup of fortified cereal = 40 IU
  • 1 cup of fortified milk = 120 IU
  • 1 egg yolk = 41 IU
  • 1 cup of fortified orange juice = 137 IU


Sensible functions

Athletes who practice indoors, devour little vitamin D wealthy sources and dwell > 35 levels north or south could profit from a vitamin complement of 1,500 – 2,000 IU per day to maintain vitamin D concentrations inside a adequate vary.


Athletes who could have a historical past of stress fractures, frequent sickness, ache or weak point, or overtraining indicators ought to have their vitamin D standing evaluated.


Vitamin D is greatest absorbed when taken with a meal that accommodates fats.


It is very important comply with up with a doctor to evaluate vitamin D ranges additional and meet with a registered dietitian to debate vitamin intervention additional.



1. Ogan, D., & Pritchett, Okay. “Vitamin D and the athlete: risks, recommendations, and benefits.” Vitamins, 5(6), 1856–1868. 2013.

2. Umar, M., Sastry, Okay. S., & Chouchane, A. I., “Role of Vitamin D Beyond the Skeletal Function: A Review of the Molecular and Clinical Studies.” Worldwide Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2018,19(6),1618.

3. Bendik, I., Friedel, A., Roos, F. F., Weber, P., & Eggersdorfer, M. “Vitamin D: a critical and essential micronutrient for human health.” Frontiers in Physiology, 5, 248, 2014.

4. Elsevier Well being Sciences. (2015, December 14). “Low levels of vitamin D may increase risk of stress fractures in active individuals: Experts recommend active individuals who participate in higher impact activities may need to maintain higher vitamin D levels.” ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 19, 2020.

5. Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” [Updated 2020 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.

6. Sekel, N.M.; Gallo, S.; Fields, J.; Jagim, A.R.; Wagner, T.; Jones, M.T. “The Effects of Cholecalciferol Supplementation on Vitamin D Status Among a Diverse Population of Collegiate Basketball Athletes: A Quasi-Experimental Trial.” Vitamins, 2020, 12, 370.

7. Nationwide Institutes of Well being – Workplace of Dietary Dietary supplements – “Vitamin D – Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” [accessed October 19, 2020].

8. Maroon JC, Mathyssek CM, Bost JW, Amos A, Winkelman R, Yates AP, Duca MA, Norwig JA. “Vitamin D profile in National Football League players.” Am J Sports activities Med. 2015 Could;43(5):1241-5. Epub 2015 Feb 3. PMID: 25649084.

9. Shut, G. L., Russell, J., Cobley, J. N., Owens, D. J., Wilson, G., Gregson, W., Fraser, W. D., & Morton, J. P., “Assessment of vitamin D concentration in non-supplemented professional athletes and healthy adults during the winter months in the UK: implications for skeletal muscle function.” Journal of Sports activities Sciences, 31(4), 344–353. 2013.

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