Low Vitamin D Status in Athletes with Dr. David Perlmutter
As the years go by it is certainly being made clear that clinicians like myself, and scientists alike have dramatically underestimated the importance of vitamin D in human physiology. And as it turns out, we are now ina position to recognize that we have been significantly off-base in terms of what it means to have a “healthy vitaminD level”.
A new study, recently published in the journal Sports Health, is entitled Prevalence of Abnormal Vitamin D LevelsAmong Division One NCAA Athletes. This study begins by stating; “Up to 1 billion people have insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels. Despite the well-documented, widespread prevalence of low vitamin D levels and the importance of vitamin D for athletes, there is a paucity of research investigating the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in athletes.”
The researchers evaluated the blood levels of vitamin D in a large group of NCAADivision I athletes. The results showed that about a third of the athletes had very low levels of vitamin D. The highest risk factors for having low levels of vitamin D were: Hispanic race, black race, or “dark skin tone.”
The reason this has particular relevance to athletes is in light of recent reports showing a direct relationship between vitamin D blood levels and muscle power, muscle force and muscle velocity as well as bone mass. In addition, low levels of vitamin D can result inover-active parathyroid function, bone loss, increased risk of low-trauma fractures, and even muscle injuries.
Research has also revealed that individuals experiencing head trauma who have a low vitamin D level when they’re hospitalized have a worse outcome when compared to those whose vitamin D levels are adequate.
We make vitamin D from cholesterol when we are exposed to ultraviolet light (sunshine).The darker your skin, the more ineffective this process is in terms of manufacturing vitamin D. Most people generally wear clothes when they’re out of doors and this serves as yet another way of depriving the body’s ability to make its own vitamin D.
To be clear, I’m not recommending that everybody run around with no clothes on! I’m simply explaining the biochemistry where vitamin D comes from.
We now have a much more encompassing understanding of the critical importance of vitamin D in health and disease resistance. From my perspective as a neurologist, I have been quite impressed with the literature over the past several years that correlates low vitamin D status with things like Alzheimer ‘s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, and multiple sclerosis. As such, I’m a big proponent of vitamin D supplementation.
About Dr. Perlmutter: David Perlmutter, M.D., is an expert in the human microbiome, a board-certified neurologist, Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, America’s brain-health expert and #1 New York Times best-selling author.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.