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Vitamin D, sport and health: a still unresolved clinical issue

Abstract

Vitamin D metabolites have a pleiotropic role in human physiology, both in static and dynamic conditions, and a lot of vitamin D-related biological effects could influence physical and sport performances in athletes. Probably due to different factors (e.g., drugs, doping, nutrition, ultraviolet B radiation exposure), in athletes a very high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy (i.e., deficiency or insufficiency) has been observed. Vitamin D inadequacy in athletes could be associated with specific health risks and to alterations of functional capacities, potentially influencing the fine adjustment of physical performances during training and sport competitions. When risk factors for vitamin D inadequacy exist, a preventive vitamin D supplementation is indicated, and if a vitamin D inadequacy is diagnosed, its supplementation is recommended. Unfortunately, on these issues many concerns remain unresolved. Indeed, it is not clear if athletes should be classified as a special population at increased risk for vitamin D inadequacy; moreover, in comparison to the non-athletic population, it is still not clear if athletes should have different reference ranges and different optimal target levels for serum vitamin D, if they have additional health risks, and if they need different type of supplementations (doses) for prevention and/or replacement therapy. Moreover, in athletes also the abuse of vitamin D supplements for ergogenic purposes raise different ethical and safety concerns. In this review, the main physio-pathological, functional and clinical issues that relate vitamin D to the world of athletes are described.

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Di Luigi, L., Antinozzi, C., Piantanida, E. et al. Vitamin D, sport and health: a still unresolved clinical issue. J Endocrinol Invest 43, 1689–1702 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40618-020-01347-w

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Keywords

  • Athletes
  • Vitamin D inadequacy
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Vitamin 25(OH)D