High rates of vitamin D deficiency have been reported in athletes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the associations between vitamin D with bone health and parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations in female runners who trained at 30.4° degrees north.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH) D), PTH, body composition, and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured in 59 female runners, aged 18–40 years. Stress fracture history, training duration and frequency were evaluated by questionnaire. As per National Endocrine Society cut-offs, serum vitamin D ranges were: 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L for deficient; 50–75 nmol/L for insufficient; and ≥ 75 nmol/L for sufficient status.
Mean serum 25(OH)D concentrations were 122.6 ± 63.9 nmol/L, with 18.6% of subjects in the deficient (5.1%) or insufficient (13.5%) range. No significant differences were observed between sufficient and deficient/insufficient subjects for BMD, PTH, history of stress fractures, or demographic data.
The majority of distance runners maintained sufficient vitamin D status, suggesting that training outdoors in latitude where vitamin D synthesis occurs year-round reduces the risk for vitamin D deficiency. Data do not support the indiscriminate supplementation of outdoor athletes in southern latitudes without prior screening.
Wentz is with the Dept. of Nutrition Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Liu is with the School of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Akron, Akron, OH. Ilich and Haymes are with the Dept. of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.