Jan 18, 2018
Low Levels, High Risk

Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is a problem among athletes. But new research has taken that theory one step further, saying low levels of this nutrient could leave athletes at risk for injury.

An article from NutraIngredients-USA.com reports that 10 percent of the football players who tried out for the NFL Draft Combine in 2015 had deficient vitamin D levels, while 59 percent had levels deemed “inadequate.” Further, the study showed that many of the athletes who had been out of competition due to a muscle strain injury had inadequate vitamin D levels.

“Diminished vitamin D levels in this group were associated with a history of lower-extremity strain or core muscle injury, which may potentially have career- or performance-based implications if not addressed,” said the researchers, who are based at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery.

The study, which will be published by Arthroscopy, examined data from 214 athletes during the 2015 NFL Combine. Its findings showed players with inadequate vitamin D levels were almost two times (1.86 higher odds) as likely to suffer lower-extremity strain or core muscle injury than those with sufficient levels. The likelihood of having a hamstring injury was almost four times as high (3.61 higher odds) for this group.

“Although our study did not address supplementation for athletes, we speculate that vitamin D supplementation could help prevent musculoskeletal injury in this group,” the researchers said. “Recommendations for vitamin D supplementation should also include routine laboratory surveillance to assess patient response and baseline levels.”

This isn’t the first time research has linked low vitamin D levels with NFL players. A 2012 article from Sports Health notes the benefits of vitamin D in relation to skeletal and extraskeletal health in this population. Specifically, its results suggest a relationship between vitamin D and many potential risks.

“Vitamin D deficiency is common in athletes,” the study reported. “For athletes presenting with stress fractures, musculoskeletal pain, and frequent illness, one should have a heightened awareness of the additional likely diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. Correction of this deficiency is completed by standardized and supervised oral supplementation protocols producing significant musculoskeletal sports health benefits.”

Image by Spc. Wilmarys Roman Rivera

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