Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Context: Vitamin D is a potent secosteroid hormone that provides many skeletal and extraskeletal health benefits. Musculoskeletal injury prevention and recovery are potentially affected by sufficient circulating levels of the storage form of vitamin D: 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, or 25(OH)D. Vitamin D deficiency can exist among young, active, and healthy people, which may put them at increased risk for injury and prolonged recovery.
Evidence Acquisition: PubMed was searched using vitamin D and skeletal muscle, vitamin D and athletic performance, and vitamin D review articles. Studies from the 1930s to 2012 were used for the review.
Results: There is strong correlation between vitamin D sufficiency and optimal muscle function. Increasing levels of vitamin D reduce inflammation, pain, and myopathy while increasing muscle protein synthesis, ATP concentration, strength, jump height, jump velocity, jump power, exercise capacity, and physical performance. 25(OH)D levels above 40 ng/mL are required for fracture prevention, including stress fractures. Optimal musculoskeletal benefits occur at 25(OH)D levels above the current definition of sufficiency (> 30 ng/mL) with no reported sports health benefits above 50 ng/mL.
Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency is common in athletes. 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.
Shuler FD, Wingate MK, Moore GH, Giangarra C. Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D. Sports Health. 2012; 4(6): 496–501.