July 2011

Low vitamin D levels plague NFL players, possibly increasing risk of muscle injury

In the moment: Sports medicine

A preseason evaluation of the New York Giants football team found that nearly all players suffered from vitamin D insufficiency, a factor that may have contributed to muscle injuries, according to a study presented this month at the AOSSM meeting.

Researchers from Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, NJ, and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City assessed vitamin D levels in 89 players prior to the 2010-2011 National Football League season. Values were within normal limits in just 17 players (19%). One third of the athletes had lab results consistent with vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/mL), and half the players demonstrated evidence of vitamin D insufficiency (between 20 ng/mL and 31.9 ng/mL).

Additional findings suggested a possible link between vitamin D and muscle injury risk. Mean vitamin D levels in the 16 players who had suffered a muscle injury during the previous season were below deficiency levels (19.9 ng/mL) and significantly lower than in players with no muscle injuries (24.7 ng/mL). Mean values were also significantly lower in the 58 black players (20.4 ng/mL) than in the 31 white players (30.3 ng/mL).

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