Vitamin D Practice Patterns in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Collegiate Athletics Programs.
J Athl Train. 2019 Nov 15. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-21-19
Rockwell M1,2, Hulver M1,2, Eugene E3.
- Vitamin D is not considered to be doping
- Athletes need 50 ng/ml of Vitamin D – Cannell and Hollis – 2009
- Book: Athlete's Edge: Faster, Quicker, Stronger With Vitamin D - Dr. Cannell 2011
- 4,000 IU of Vitamin D is OK - 19 organizations agree - 2018
- Is 50 ng of vitamin D too high, just right, or not enough
- Need 40 to 60 ng of Vitamin D – 48 scientists call for action – 2015
Indoor Athletes have lower Vitamin D levels
- NFL team less likely to cut players with high levels of vitamin D – Feb 2015
- NHL discovers Vitamin D – their ideal is 40-120 ng – 2016
- Every single Taekwondo (indoor) Korean teen had low Vitamin D – Sept 2019
- Dark skinned NCAA basketball players were 15X more likely to have low vitamin D – Feb 2014
Overview Sports and vitamin D has the following summary
Athletes are helped by vitamin D by:
- Faster reaction time
- Far fewer colds/flus during the winter
- Less sore/tired after a workout
- Fewer micro-cracks and broken bones
- Bones which do break heal much more quickly
- Increased VO2 and exercise endurance Feb 2011
- Indoor athletes especially need vitamin D
- Professional indoor athletes are starting to supplement with vitamin D or use vitamin D beds
- Olympic athletes have used UV/vitamin D since the 1930's
- The biggest gain from the use of vitamin D is by those who exercise less than 2 hours per day.
- Reduced muscle fatigue with 10,000 IU vitamin D daily
- Muscle strength improved when vitamin D added: 3 Meta-analysis
- Reduced Concussions
See also: Sports and Vitamin D category
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Sports benefits from up to 50 ng (click on chart for details)
Overview Sports and vitamin D Concussions
Military Muscle Overview Fractures and vitamin D
Vitamin D supplementation increases strength of lower muscles – Meta-analysis April 2019
Athletes helped by weekly 50,000 IU Vitamin D – RCT Aug 2019
Many Foot and ankle problems are treated by Vitamin D – review of 35 studies – Sept 2019
Vitamin D provides faster recovery after muscle overuse – April 2013
NCAA trainers are getting on board the Vitamin D train (40-50 ng)– Nov 2019
1,117 colleges and Universities, Nearly half a million college athletes, 19,750 team
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Tests typically cost $50 to $100
- Note: Low-cost Vitamin D testers (about 13 dollars in quantity) – Feb 2018
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Variety of athletic programs covered in the survey
Vitamin D status has been associated with performance, health, and well-being in athletic populations. The measurement of vitamin D status via 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) testing has increased in the general population, as has vitamin D supplement use. It is unclear if similar patterns exist in collegiate athletics programs.
To describe the clinical care related to the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency given by sports medicine providers with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I programs.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Population-based online survey.
PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: All NCAA Division I head athletic trainers.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Information related to 25(OH)D testing, vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D-related protocols and procedures, and characteristics of athletic programs and participants.
We received 249 responses (72% response rate). Use of 25(OH)D testing was described by 68% of participants, with the most common indicators being health status/history (78%) and injury status/history (74%). One-fifth of participants stated that vitamin D testing was conducted as screening (without a specific cause or indication). Target blood vitamin D concentrations were highly variable. A range of 8 to 1660 annual vitamin D blood tests was reported at a cost of <$50 (8%), $51 to $100 (51%), $101 to $150 (20%), and >$150 (10%). Forty-two percent of programs covered the cost of vitamin D supplements. More than half of the participants commented that vitamin D blood testing and supplements were not a good use of program funds. In comparison with Football Championship Subdivision programs, Football Bowl Subdivision programs were more likely to conduct vitamin D testing and pay for vitamin D supplements, and their providers were more likely to believe that testing and supplements were a good use of program funds.
A great deal of variability was present in vitamin D-related clinical practices among NCAA Division I athletics programs, which reflects existing contradictions and uncertainty in research, recommendations, and guidelines. Knowledge of current practice patterns is important in evaluating and establishing best practices, policies, and procedures for sports medicine and sports nutrition professionals in the collegiate setting.
- More than two thirds of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics programs conducted 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) testing and 42% purchased vitamin D supplements.
- Many aspects of clinical practice related to prevention, evaluation, and treatment of low vitamin D were highly variable among programs, including the 25(OH)D concentration considered adequate.
- More than half of head athletic trainers did not view 25(OH)D testing and vitamin D supplements as good uses of athletics program funds.
Table 1. Synopsis of Vitamin D Practice Patterns Survey Questions
- Whether the athletics program had a policy or procedures dedicated to vitamin D testing (ie, serum 25[OH]D testing) and treatment
- Whether vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D) were conducted on any student-athletes
- Which student-athletes had vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D)
- Indications for vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D)
- Whether follow-up vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D) were conducted if abnormal results were obtained on an initial test
- Target vitamin D (ie, serum 25[OH]D) concentration
- Individuals responsible for ordering vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D)
- Cost of each vitamin D test (ie, serum 25[OH]D)
- Whether the athletics program covered the cost of vitamin D supplements
- Participants’ opinions about the appropriateness of the program’s target vitamin D (ie, serum 25[OH]D) concentration and the value of vitamin D tests (ie, serum 25[OH]D)
Only 20% had a formal Vitamin D protocol or policy
- ‘‘We used to get a vitamin D test on every athlete at physicals, but it seems like they were all coming back low, so now we just give out vitamin D supplements after practice.’’
- ‘‘For all of our teams that are primarily indoors for training, we provide vitamin D [supplements] prophylactically.’’
Three primary reasons were given for ordering a blood test
- to evaluate deficiency,
- assess toxicity, or
- monitor treatment.
Target Vit D ng/mL % Responses <20 0 20-30 3 30-40 6 40-50 27 >50 13 Unsure 51
One-fifth of NCAA Division I collegiate athletics programs reported 25(OH)D screening for all athletes without a particular cause.
The American College of Sports Medicine and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics joint position statement on nutrition and performance36 advised that ‘‘athletes with a history of stress fracture, bone or joint injury, signs of overtraining, muscle pain or weakness, and a lifestyle involving low exposure to UVB’’ may require 25(OH)D assessment.
Athletics programs may benefit from the development of strategic 25(OH)D testing and followup testing guidelines and protocols, particularly when budgetary resources are limited.
Furthermore, dosing strategies vary broadly in the
- form of vitamin D (D2 versus D3),
- mode of delivery (eg, tablet or capsule, spray, intramuscular injection),
- frequency of dosing (eg, daily, weekly, monthly), and
- amount of vitamin D (from 400 1U to 150 000 1U is available).32
Although evidence suggested that
- vitamin D3 was preferable to vitamin D2 and
- daily or weekly dosing was preferable to larger monthly doses,
- an optimal dosing strategy has not been described.
An alternative to 25(OH)D testing is blanket or routine supplementation (ie, providing vitamin D supplements broadly to athletes without individualization or knowledge of their 25[OH]D concentrations). This method has become more common among athletic populations, as noted by more than 15% of participants in this study.
The ingestion of 1000 to 2000 1U of vitamin D3 daily has been recommended for preventing LVD or maintaining the 25(OH)D concentration during autumn and the winter months, when UVB synthesis is low or nonexistent.46
Strengths of this study were the excellent response rate (72%), with nearly 250 head ATs from NCAA Division 1 collegiate athletics programs offering insight into their clinical practices related to vitamin D.
Overall, vitamin D is an accessible, low-risk, and fairly low- cost intervention with the potential to improve performance and health in athletes. Emerging research, controversial guidelines, and a paucity of athlete-specific recommendations are reflected in the large variability of vitamin D—related clinical care demonstrated by NCAA Division 1 athletics programs. With 68% of athletics programs regularly testing 25(OH)D concentrations and 42% covering the costs of vitamin D supplements, developing policies and procedures informed by the best evidence available is important. Knowledge of clinical practice patterns in the collegiate setting is critical for evaluating and establishing best practices, policies, and procedures for sports medicine and sports nutrition professionals.
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