Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 2323–2339 | Cite as

Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations and Physical Performance in Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • Forough FarrokhyarEmail author
  • Gayathri Sivakumar
  • Katey Savage
  • Alex Koziarz
  • Sahab Jamshidi
  • Olufemi R. Ayeni
  • Devin Peterson
  • Mohit Bhandari
Systematic Review



There is currently no systematic review examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation among athletes. A rigorous systematic review and meta-analysis is important to provide a balanced view of current knowledge on the effect of vitamin D on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations and physical performance.


This systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluated the effects of oral vitamin D supplementation on serum 25(OH)D concentrations and physical performance in athletes.


Multiple electronic databases were searched, and study eligibility, methodological quality assessment, and data extraction were completed independently and in duplicate. Studies were stratified by baseline vitamin D sufficiency, season, and latitude. A cut-off of 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l) of 25(OH)D was used for sufficiency. Absolute mean differences (AMDs) between vitamin D and placebo using random effects analysis, and heterogeneity using Q statistic and I 2 index, were calculated. AMD with 95% confidence interval (CI), p value, and I 2 are reported.


In total, 13 RCTs (2005–2016) with 532 athletes (vitamin D 311, placebo 221) were eligible. A total of 433 athletes (vitamin D 244, placebo 189) had complete outcome data. Among athletes with baseline values suggesting insufficiency, vitamin D supplementation led to significant increases from 3000 IU (AMD 15.2 ng/ml; 95% CI 10.7–19.7, p < 0.0001, I 2 = 0%) and 5000 IU (AMD 27.8 ng/ml; 95% CI 16.9–38.8, p < 0.0001, I 2 = 78%) per day at >45° latitudes. Both doses led to sufficiency concentrations during winter months. Among athletes with baseline vitamin D suggesting sufficiency, serum 25(OH)D sufficiency was maintained from different doses at both latitudes. Of 13 included trials, only seven measured different physical performances and none demonstrated a significant effect of vitamin D supplementation during 12 weeks of follow-up.


Despite achieving sufficiency in vitamin D concentrations from ≥3000 IU supplementation, physical performance did not significantly improve. Between-study heterogeneity was large, and well-designed RCTs examining the effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum 25(OH)D concentrations, physical performance, and injuries in different sports, latitudes, ethnicities, and vitamin D status are needed.



The authors express their special gratitude to Ms. Laura Banfield, a professional librarian at the School of Health Sciences at McMaster University, for assisting Katey Savage in the systematic literature search strategy for the articles. The authors also express their gratitude to Zina Fathalla for her assistance with double-checking the collection of data.

Author contributions

This review was designed by Forough Farrokhyar, Olufemi Ayeni, Devin Peterson, and Mohit Bhandari; the search strategy was executed by Katey Savage; articles were screened for eligibility and quality by Gayathri Sivakumar, Katey Savage, Alex Koziarz, and Forough Farrokhyar; data were collected in duplicate and independently by Gayathri Sivakumar, Alex Koziarz, and Sahab Jamshidi, and analysed by Forough Farrokhyar; the manuscript was prepared by Forough Farrokhyar, reviewed by Mohit Bhandari, Olufemi Ayeni, and Devin Peterson for clinical relevance and implications, and edited and approved by all authors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Forough Farrokhyar, Gayathri Sivakumar, Katey Savage, Alex Koziarz, Sahab Jamshidi, Olufemi Ayeni, Devin Peterson, and Mohit Bhandari have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

Supplementary material

40279_2017_749_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 4797 kb)
40279_2017_749_MOESM2_ESM.doc (64 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 63 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Health, Evidence and ImpactMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  4. 4.Victoria HospitalCastriesSaint Lucia
  5. 5.HamiltonCanada

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