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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Low 25(OH) vitamin D concentrations in international UK track and field athletes : original research
Objective. While it is recognised that vitamin D deficiency is common in the general population, there have been no studies in elite athletes in the UK. This observational study aimed to assess the 25 hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D) status of elite athletes on the Great Britain track and field team.
Methods. A cross-sectional observational study was performed by analysing blood results from elite athletes on the British athletics team (N=63; mean ± standard deviation (SD) age 24.9±4.2 years). Athletes on the elite programme were offered blood tests through the winter and summer of 2009 and were eligible for inclusion in the study.
Results. Nineteen per cent (n=12) of athletes in the current study can be classified as 25(OH)D deficient (<20 mcg/l), while a further 29% (n=18) can be classified as having insufficient serum 25(OH)D levels (20 - 30 mcg/l). Female sex (insufficent and deficient OH(D) prevalence 58%, n=18) and dark skin (prevalence 65%, n=20) were found to be independent predictors of serum 25(OH)D levels of <30 mcg/l.
Conclusion. This study reveals a notable prevalence of low serum 25(OH)D levels in elite athletes and subsequent management of deficient athletes is likely to be of importance for athlete health. The impact of these results on athletic performance remains to be determined, and clinical trials to assess performance, particularly muscular performance, following correction of 25(OH)D status in deficient athletes are required.
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