Exploring Supplement Needs for Athletes

posted by on May 16th, 2017

The athlete has a unique training schedule, dietary regimen and even sleep cycle. How about supplements? Should athletes or individuals that are regular fitness enthusiast change up their supplement habits, the same way they change up their fitness or training routines?
Athletic potential is in direct proportion to the demands put on the athletes’ body- this is called moving under load, and in proportion to the athletes’ ability to recover after such demands. This means better micro and macro nutrient management for both muscular recovery as well as nervous system recovery. Too often, a lack of nutrients, in particular vitamin D3 deficiency leave us prone to muscle injury.
With a focus on fitness, and the role of Vitamin D3, which is regarded as one of the most significant nutrients for optimal health, the literature reveals muscle strength appears to be an overlooked benefit of Vitamin D3 intake.
The J. of Science and Medicine in Sport (September 2015) looked at multiple trials that included males and females, ages 18-40 years of age. Both athletic and non-athletic participants were evaluated for leg strength as well as mobility in the trials in which study participants were provided vitamin D3 supplementation between the amounts of 4,000 IUs per day and up to 60,000 IUs per week. The outcomes reviewed showed vitamin D3 supplementation improved upper and lower limb muscle strength in healthy adult subjects.
This evidence confirms current studies out of the University of Tulsa showing athletes that do not get adequate dietary, or supplemental, Vitamin D3 are 77% weaker than their athletic counterparts which meet Vitamin D3 sufficiency. Such studies give license to increase investigation into the role of nutrition and physical fitness. (2)
A new study reported at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons spoke to Vitamin D3’s utility in athletic performance and risk for “on the field” injury. Researchers utilized data on more than 200 college athletes to determine specifically Vitamin D3’s role in healthy body composition and history of physical injury or loss of time on the field due to injury. Approximately 60% of those athletes tested had abnormally low Vitamin D levels, (25-OH) with 10% having a severe deficiency of the pro-hormone Vitamin D3. (3)
Studies on Vitamin D3, either with or without calcium supplementation have been the regular focus of mobility studies in the elderly, and while results of those studies have been met with mixed reception, these current trials give us insight into the benefits of earlier supplementation to support both physical well-being as well as prevention of future disability.
Individuals, be them athletes or not, should be optimizing their vitamin D3 intake as blood levels of vitamin D3 have a direct and indirect influence on the health of the heart, bones, energy metabolism, cognition, immune system and even health of the skin.
Continued research into younger or more athletic populations may help to advance early prevention strategies for muscle retention and strength into later decades of life.

1-Tomlinson, P., et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on upper and lower body muscle strength levels in healthy individuals. A systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 18(5): 575-580, 2015.
2- Villacis D., Prevalence of Abnormal Vitamin D Levels Among Division I NCAA Athletes. Sports Health. 2014 Jul;6(4):340-7.
3- http://www. hss.edu/newsroom_study-finds-college-football-players-have-…