An individualised approach is needed when considering vitamin D supplementation

This review of vitamin D supplementation in athletes highlights the lack of good evidence for the widespread use of vitamin D in football players and provides guidelines for an individualised approach to supplementation.1

Vitamin D supplementation has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with reported benefits to athletes including improvements in bone and muscle health and a reduced infection risk. The authors of this paper highlight that while large trials have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin D in non-athletic patients, it remains unclear whether there is a measurable difference for many young, trained athletes. They also suggest that there may be some health and performance risks associated with consuming too much vitamin D.

Blanket supplementation with vitamin D has become quite common in some clubs. This review suggests that players are only supplemented if they are deficient in vitamin D levels – as there is no gain in elevating vitamin D above sufficient levels. It also highlights the cost associated with systematic screening of serum 25(OH)D (as a measure of vitamin D status) and that this marker may not give a good correlation with bone and muscle health. Furthermore, there are large variations of vitamin D levels found amongst athletes with dietary, lifestyle, clothing and sunlight exposure all influencing this marker. Skin colour also has a major influence. This variability further limits the value of testing.

As a result of these factors, targeting treatment based on the player’s individual risk for deficiency may be more useful in the ‘real world’. The authors present a decision tree to help guide the most effective use of vitamin D in athletes. They suggest that vitamin D status is tested for players who have sunlight exposure that is limited to < 20 minutes per day (arms and legs) and/or for players who reside < 30°or > 60°north. If the player has low serum 25(OH)D, or if testing is not available, they should be prescribed 2000-4000 IU vitamin D3/day. In all other situations it is unlikely that supplementation is required.

As with other supplements it is very important to consider what impact prescribing vitamin D might have on the athlete and their obligation to the WADA code. Choosing a reputable brand that has been produced as a ‘pharmaceutical’ or has been batch tested is advisable.

To learn more about the value of supplements in football review the ‘Nutrition’ module.

References
1. Owens DJ, Allison R, Close GL. Vitamin D and the Athlete: Current Perspectives and New Challenges. Sports Med (2018) 48 (Suppl 1): S3-S16.

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drlabelle
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My exposure to this issue: – I treat mostly ice hockey players (indoor) and runners. – Studies indicate that in Chicago, IL approximately 80% of the general population are deficient in Vit D (we are FAR below 60 degrees north). – Sunscreen application blocks virtually all Vit D formation I have found that most of my athletes in their 20s and above benefit from 3k IU a day (oral drops). If they are not deficient, there is very little (i would say none) negative impact as it is a daily dose that will never be toxic and the cost is… Read more »

Bangoura
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La vitamines joue un rôle essentiel dans la fixation du calcium par l organisme Elle intervient en effet dans le processus d absorption du calcium et du phosphore par l intestin et permet de maintenir les os et les dents en bonne sante Au contact de la peau les rayons ultra violets synthétisr cette vitamine La vitamineD3 OU Cholecalcium est la principale forme de vitamine D chez l homme elle représente 80 à 90% des apports en vitamineD Une bonne performance des sportifs passent souvent par la prise de vitamine ou autres compléments Les vitamines jouent un grand rôle dans… Read more »