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New research published in the journal; Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach has found that about a third of NCAA athletes in southern California have vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. Up to 1 billion people suffer from insufficient Vitamin D levels.

Researchers tested NCAA Division 1 athletes at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles between June 2012 and August 2012 and 33.6% of the athletes participating had insufficient vitamin D levels. It was also determined that male athletes are more likely to be deficient than female athletes. They measured the vitamin D levels of 223 athletes in the summer of 2012. Vitamin D sufficiency was defined as a level at or above 32 ng/ml, insufficiency was defined as a level between 20 and 31 ng/ml, and deficiency was defined as a vitamin D level less than 20 ng/ml.

Athletes need vitamin D to help promote strong muscles and bones and to help reduce the risk of injury. Recent studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between serum 25 (OH)D levels and muscle power, force, velocity, and optimal bone mass. Muscle biopsies from patients with low Vitamin D have demonstrated atrophic changes in type 2 muscle fibers, which are crucial to most athletes. Hyperparathyroidism, increased bone turnover, bone loss, and increased risk of low trauma fractures and muscle injuries are directly linked to low Vitamin D.

The study concluded that; “Despite this well-documented relationship between vitamin D and athletic performance, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in NCAA athletes has not been well studied.

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