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Research shows that college football players have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency

Posted on: March 21, 2017   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons discovered that more than half of college football players were vitamin D deficient.

College, semi-professional and professional athletes are at risk of musculoskeletal injury due to the high intensity strain put upon the body when engaging in competitive sporting events. Due to vitamin D’s known relationship with musculoskeletal health, researchers from this study explored the prevalence of vitamin D in a group of college football players, a population not extensively researched.

This study evaluated the serum 25(OH)D levels of 214 football players who had participated in the 2015 National Football League (NFL) Scouting Combine. The study also assessed body mass index (BMI) and history of injury. Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml were considered deficient, between 20-32 ng/ml were considered insufficient and above 32 ng/ml were considered sufficient.

This is what the researchers found:

  • 126 of the players (59%) were considered to be vitamin D deficient.
  • 10% of the players were considered to be severely deficient (<10 ng/ml)
  • 86% of the college players were considered to have inadequate vitamin D levels (below 31 ng/ml).
  • There was a significantly higher prevalence of muscle strain and injury in those who had lower vitamin D levels.
  • 14 participants had reported missing at least one game as a result of a muscle injury.

Researchers from this study concluded:

“Awareness of the potential for vitamin D inadequacy could lead to early recognition of the problem in certain athletes. This could allow for supplementation to bring levels up to normal and potentially prevent future injury.”


Rodeo, S. et al. More than Half of College Football Athletes Have Inadequate Levels of Vitamin D – Deficiency Linked to Muscle Injuries. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting, March 16.

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