Vitamin D is linked with muscle function and performance. A new study shows low vitamin D even in professional football players. In a small study of a single NFL team, researchers included vitamin D levels as part of the routine pre-season evaluation conducted in the spring of 2010.
Only one-fifth of the players had normal blood levels. Eighty percent of the football team had blood levels below normal range (defined as 32 ng/ml.) Thirty percent had levels less than 20 ng/ml. African American players had lower average blood levels of vitamin D than Caucasian players.
During the season players who sustained muscle injuries were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D. The 16 players who suffered a muscle injury has a mean level of 20 ng/ml.
Although muscle function and vitamin D were once thought to only be important in older persons, similar findings are being reported in all groups and now even elite professional athletes. While the definition of optimal vitamin D status is controversial, levels lower than the commonly recommended level of 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l) are a major public health issue. According to current estimates, the majority of Americans have suboptimal vitamin D levels. Even during the summer, you may need to supplement with vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your muscles and bones. Many other areas are under investigation. Stay tuned!
-Diane L. Schneider, MD
Source: Shindle MK, et al. Vitamin D status in a professional American football team. Paper #46. Presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. July 7-10, San Diego.
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