Vitamin D & athleticism

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Phys Ed: Can Vitamin D Improve Your Athletic Performance?:

Although few studies have looked closely at the issue of Vitamin D and athletic performance, those that have are suggestive. A series of strange but evocative studies undertaken decades ago in Russia and Germany, for instance, hint that the Eastern Bloc nations may have depended in part on sunlamps and Vitamin D to produce their preternaturally well-muscled and world-beating athletes. In one of the studies, four Russian sprinters were doused with artificial, ultraviolet light. Another group wasn’t. Both trained identically for the 100-meter dash. The control group lowered their sprint times by 1.7 percent. The radiated runners, in comparison, improved by an impressive 7.4 percent.

More recently, when researchers tested the vertical jumping ability of a small group of adolescent athletes, Larson-Meyer says, “they found that those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D tended not to jump as high,” intimating that too little of the nutrient may impair muscle power. Low levels might also contribute to sports injuries, in part because Vitamin D is so important for bone and muscle health. In a Creighton University study of female naval recruits, stress fractures were reduced significantly after the women started taking supplements of Vitamin D and calcium.

I’ve been wondering about the effects of a sunny Mediterranean climate culturally. I always assumed that people in California and Florida were more athletic because the weather was nice all year, but perhaps there are other factors?

Labels:

3 Comments

  1. Four Russian sprinters were doused with artificial, ultraviolet light. Another group wasn’t. Both trained identically for the 100-meter dash. The control group lowered their sprint times by 1.7 percent. The radiated runners, in comparison, improved by an impressive 7.4 percent. 
     
    N=4? Random sampling error, per chance?

  2. there’s also the issue of getting the causal arrow reversed (low vit D is indicative of global physiological issues, not the cause).

  3. This is easy to test in mice and potentially similar to the PPARd/AMPK story published in Cell by Ron Evans last year. Maybe VDR switches muscle fibers to fast twitch for sprinting as opposed to PPARd/PGC-1a for slow twitch fibers.

a