Winter is approaching so we can assume that most team sport athletes will not be played outside (unless you live in the southern states and California!). This is always a cause for concern for the strength coach because no direct sunlight (the best source of vit. D) means low vitamin D3 levels for our athletes. I was curious to conduct a quick PubMed search on vitamin D deficiencies in soccer athletes and this is what popped up first…
Seasonal variation in vitamin D status in professional soccer players of the English Premier League.
- 20 FA Premier League (England’s top league) players were levels were tracked from August to December.
- 13 (65%) of the 20’s vitamin D levels were insufficient (less than 50 nmol/L) once December rolled around —–> sufficient vitamin D levels is said to be between 75-100 nmol/L!
Nutrition status of junior elite Canadian female soccer athletes.
- 33 athletes had macro and mico nutrient content taken along with skinfold measurements (body fat %)
- All 33 (100%) soccer athletes had not met the recommended dietary intakes for vitamin D
Why is this important?
Vitamin D levels are associated with…
- loss of muscle strength and mass
- increased risk of cancers
- lower levels of immunity
- high blood pressure
- development of neurological disorders
- development of diabetes
(all these taken from PrecisionNutrition.com)
The first and third bullet points are what come to mind with athletes. If there is one certain way to decrease performance during a season and increase the chance of injury, it may well be a loss in strength. Even more importantly is the decreased immunity levels. Recovery from practices, games, and life stressors is considered the most important aspect for performance (in one’s job or sports performance) because if the body cannot recover efficiently there is an increase in the likelihood of injury and a performance decrement.
A significant issue then becomes how do we get increased levels of vitamin D if we know we are almost always inside (recommended sunlight directly for up to 30 minutes/day)? It is very difficult to consume the daily requirements of vitamin D daily. This line of thinking is similar to the creatine debate. You would have to go ape shit (that means eating) on red meat in order to get 5g of creatine per day which is why we supplement.
It’s simple: supplement with 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D3/day as recommended by PrecisionNutrition.com, a highly recommended resource if seeking nutritional advice for the general person or athlete.
In summary, this is but one of the ways to help our athlete’s performance knowing that winter is approaching. Individualized training programs, quality nutrition intake, and proper rest for recovery is also part of the puzzle. Find a way!