Shocking number of college athletes are vitamin D deficient

Shocking number of college athletes are vitamin D deficient

Many people in the United States are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency, but it’s particularly important for athletes, due to their increased risk of injury.

Now, a new study finds that one third of Division I college athletes are vitamin D deficient.

Men were almost three times more likely than women to have low vitamin D levels, and those with darker skin tones were most at risk, according to the study. Hispanic athletes were six times more likely to have low vitamin D levels than their white counterparts, and black athletes were 19 times more likely.

“If an athlete is prone to injuries like stress fractures, checking their vitamin D levels may be useful in determining whether a deficiency may be to blame,” says Dr. Michael Ward, sports medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “Preventing injury is important in young athletes. Many of these men and women have long lives ahead of them and we want them to be able to live them to the fullest.”

Researchers at the University of South California said vitamin D levels can affect muscle power and bone mass. Some studies have also suggested it improves overall athletic performance. Researchers are hopeful the results will encourage athletes to be aware of their vitamin D levels, which can help them avoid unnecessary injury.

Vitamin D deficiency can be serious for non-athletes as well, as it has been linked to exhaustion, loss of bone density, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Getting sufficient vitamin D can be tricky, especially for those living in cold weather climates. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D can be readily absorbed from sunlight. Overexposure to the sun carries its own risks, so moderation is key, Dr. Ward says.

Dr. Ward offers suggestions for ensuring people are getting enough vitamin D:

  • Eat fatty fish like salmon and tuna
  • Include vitamin D-fortified foods in your diet like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals
  • Eat calcium-rich foods like leafy greens and legumes to help the body absorb vitamin D more effectively
  • If a person knows they’re deficient, consider vitamin D or cod liver oil supplements

Click here for a quick snapshot of foods that can help college athletes with vitamin D deficiency.

 

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.