A new review suggests that vitamin D supplements may also help athletes – if they’re deficient, according to a news release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The article, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, found that vitamin D supplements boosts muscle strength in athletes.
Higher vitamin D levels have also been linked to reducing injury and improving athletic performance.
“Vitamin D deficiency commonly affects many people around the world,” said lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Geoffrey D. Abrams, MD. “With higher serum levels of vitamin D playing a role in muscle strength, injury prevention, and sports performance, it’s essential for individuals to take necessary steps to ensure they’re getting an adequate amount of vitamin D intake, whether through direct sunlight or other sources including fish, eggs, fortified dairy products, and dietary supplements. Studies also have shown that daily vitamin D supplements are proven to be more effective than weekly or monthly doses.”
That said, no one should take vitamin D supplements without checking first with their doctor. And, many physicians say it’s better to seek vitamin D from food sources and supplements than from the sun, which can lead to skin cancer.
People who have low vitamin D levels often have symptoms. They may experience muscle cramps, bone pain or joint pain.
The new review on vitamin D highlights findings across several studies to determine its effects in three categories:
- Muscle Strength. One study examined 310 athletes who were vitamin D deficient. After taking vitamin D supplementation, they increased their upper and lower body strength.
- Sports Performance. Another study assessed the effect of vitamin D on a group of athletes who received 5,000 International Units (IU) per day of vitamin D over an eight-week period. Seventy percent of these athletes had a vitamin D level of less than 20 ng/mL. Those who received vitamin D supplementation had increased vertical jump heights throughout the study.
- The risk of injury. Another study looked at 1,000 Royal Marine recruits in the United Kingdom to evaluate the association between vitamin D levels and risk of stress fracture. The study identified 92 stress fractures and found that recruits with vitamin D levels of less than 20 ng/mL had a 60 percent higher incidence of stress fractures than recruits with greater vitamin D concentrations.
“While vitamin D supplementation improves function and decreases fracture risk in people who are vitamin D deficient, it’s important for individuals to be aware of the safe dosage amount, which varies with age and the status of an individual’s current vitamin D level,” Dr. Abrams said. “We are not advocating for athletes to take additional vitamin D without first speaking with a doctor.”
+ Virginia Orthopaedic and Spine Specialists, in conjunction with Bon Secours Hampton Roads, offers a full continuum of orthopaedic sports performance care that includes the most up-to-date equipment for treatment in Hampton Roads. Our state-of-the-art rehabilitation centers feature new innovations in sports medicine.