Vitamin D-An Athlete's New Best Friend?

Many athletes, whether they are casual, “weekend warriors”, or professionals, are discovering new information on an old essential compound – vitamin D.  Vitamin D is an important vitamin that helps people absorb calcium.  It is widely known that calcium is critical for bone density.  There is growing evidence that vitamin D may have many benefits to athletes, especially when it comes to injury prevention.

Vitamin D can be found in many foods including fish, fortified milk, and different cereals.  Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  Studies have shown that our vitamin D levels fluctuate with the seasons.  Naturally, vitamin D goes down in the winter and rises in the summer.  People who spend much of their time inside or have darker-pigmented skin are at risk to be vitamin D deficient.

Sports nutritionists have recently taken notice of vitamin D.  Professional sports teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Detroit Red Wings have all monitored vitamin D in their players.  Even universities, such as the University of Southern California, are starting to test vitamin D levels in their athletes.  If someone is deficient in vitamin D, they can be on a vitamin D-rich diet or supplement using pills.

So why all the fuss about vitamin D?  Recent data has shown a tangible benefit to increasing vitamin D levels in people who are deficient, including an increase in proximal strength and a decrease in stress fractures.  Vitamin D benefits immunity as well.  The opposite is true for those who are lacking vitamin D.  One study showed athletes with bone fractures are found to have low vitamin D levels.  This same study found that those who experienced injury or poor performance on a competitive sports team had lower vitamin D than those who actually made the team.

Kinetic Dx (KDx) is as committed to peak athletic performance as their customers.  Data clearly states knowing your vitamin D is the first step to knowing if you are deficient.  Fortunately, KDx has a test that checks specifically for vitamin D and calcium, to know if supplementation is needed.  This test may be performed at different times of the year, so athletes can increase or decrease their vitamin D intake with seasonal changes.  There is also genetic testing available that directly impacts vitamin D metabolism.  Some athletes may have a genetic predisposition to being vitamin D deficient.  In these cases, vitamin D supplementation is even more critical.

Many sports teams, college athletic programs, and sports medicine societies are experiencing how vitamin D, or the lack thereof, can positively or negatively impact athletic performance and sports injuries.  Kinetic Dx has a multitude of tests for those who want to take their competitive edge to the next level.  Most importantly, testing provides actionable information to assist athletes in optimizing their abilities.

 

References:

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  • Neal S, Sykes J, Rigby M, Hess B. Phys Sportsmed. 2015 May;43(2):161-8.
  • Stockton KA, Mengersen K, Paratz JD, Kandiah D, Bennell KL.  2011 Mar;22(3):859-71.