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Phys Act Nutr > Volume 25(2); 2021 > Article
Physical Activity and Nutrition 2021;25(2):20-25.
DOI:    Published online June 30, 2021.
Vitamin D in athletes: focus on physical performance and musculoskeletal injuries
Sewoon Yoon1, Ohkyu Kwon2, Jooyoung Kim3
1Division of Sports Science, College of Health Science, University of Suwon, Hwaseong, Republic of Korea
2Department of Physical Education, College of Education, Daegu Catholic University, Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea
3Office of Academic Affairs, Konkuk University, Chungju, Republic of Korea
Correspondence:  Jooyoung Kim, Tel: +82-43-840-3520, 
Received: 3 June 2021   • Revised: 21 June 2021   • Accepted: 28 June 2021
The aim of this review was to discuss the effects of vitamin D on physical performance and musculoskeletal injuries in athletes and provide information on the field applications of vitamin D.
A systematic review was conducted to identify studies on vitamin D in athletes that assessed serum vitamin D levels, vitamin D and physical performance, vitamin D and musculoskeletal injuries, and practical guidelines for supplementation of vitamin D.
Several studies reported that a high proportion of athletes had vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. Low serum levels of vitamin D in athletes were more pronounced in winter than in other seasons, and indoor athletes had lower serum vitamin D levels than outdoor athletes. Low vitamin D levels have been demonstrated to have negative effects on muscle strength, power, and endurance; increase stress fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries; and affect acute muscle injuries and inflammation following high-intensity exercises. Therefore, periodic assessment and monitoring of vitamin D levels are necessary in athletes; the recommended serum level of 25(OH)D is > 32 ng/mL and the preferred level is > 40 ng/mL (-1). In those with low levels of vitamin D, exposure to sunlight and an improved diet or supplements may be helpful. Particularly, 2000–6000 IU of supplemental vitamin D3 can be consumed daily.
Vitamin D is a potential nutritional factor that can significantly affect physical performance and musculoskeletal injuries in athletes. The importance and role of vitamin D in athletes should be emphasized, and the current levels of vitamin D should be assessed. Therefore, it is essential to periodically evaluate and monitor serum vitamin D levels in athletes.
Key Words: athlete, musculoskeletal injury, physical performance, stress fracture, supplementation, vitamin D
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