Seasonal variation in vitamin D status, bone health and athletic performance in competitive university student athletes: A longitudinal study

Saskia L. Wilson-Barnes*, Julie E.A. Hunt, Emma L. Williams, Sarah J. Allison, James J. Wild, Joe Wainwright, Susan A. Lanham-New, Ralph J.F. Manders

*Corresponding author for this work

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin D deficiency has been commonly reported in elite athletes, but the vitamin D status of UK university athletes in different training environments remains unknown. The present study aimed to determine any seasonal changes in vitamin D status among indoor and outdoor athletes, and whether there was any relationship between vitamin D status and indices of physical performance and bone health. A group of forty-seven university athletes (indoor n 22, outdoor n 25) were tested during autumn and spring for serum vitamin D status, bone health and physical performance parameters. Blood samples were analysed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (s-25(OH)D) status. Peak isometric knee extensor torque using an isokinetic dynamometer and jump height was assessed using an Optojump. Aerobic capacity was estimated using the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans measured radial bone mineral density. Statistical analyses were performed using appropriate parametric/non-parametric testing depending on the normality of the data. s-25(OH)D significantly fell between autumn (52 8 (SD 22 0) nmol/l) and spring (31 0 (SD 16 5) nmol/l; P < 0 001). In spring, 34 % of participants were considered to be vitamin D deficient (<25 nmol/l) according to the revised 2016 UK guidelines. These data suggest that UK university athletes are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Thus, further research is warranted to investigate the concomitant effects of low vitamin D status on health and performance outcomes in university athletes residing at northern latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8
JournalJournal of Nutritional Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

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