Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on 25(OH)D Status in Elite Athletes With Spinal Cord Injury

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Recent studies suggest that a substantial proportion of athletes with spinal cord injury have insufficient 25(OH) vitamin D (25(OH)D) status, which may be associated with decreased muscle strength. This study consisted of two parts: (a) to examine the effects of a 12- to 16-week vitamin D3 supplementation protocol on 25(OH)D concentration and (b) to determine whether subsequent 25(OH)D status impacts muscle performance in elite athletes with spinal cord injury. Thirty-four members (age: 33 ± 15 years, weight: 69.6 ± 28.2 kg, and height: 170.2 ± 25.4 cm) of the U.S. and Canadian Paralympic program participated in the study. 25(OH)D concentrations and performance measures (handgrip strength and 20-m wheelchair sprint) were assessed pre- and postsupplementation. Participants were assigned a vitamin D3 supplementation protocol based on initial 25(OH)D concentrations. Participants with deficient 25(OH)D status (<50 nmol/L) received 50,000 IU/week for 8 weeks, and participants with insufficient status (50–75 nmol/L) received 35,000 IU/week for 4 weeks, after which both received a maintenance dose of 15,000 IU/week. Participants with sufficient status (>75 nmol/L) received the maintenance dose of 15,000 IU/week. 25(OH)D concentrations increased significantly (p < .001; 66.3 ± 24.3 nmol/L and 111.3 ± 30.8 nmol/L pre- and postsupplementation, respectively). About 26% of athletes had sufficient 25(OH)D concentrations presupplementation, and 91% had sufficient concentrations postsupplementation. About 62% of participants improved handgrip strength postsupplementation with no change in 20-m wheelchair sprint performance. The supplementation protocol was effective for achieving sufficient vitamin D concentrations in elite athletes with spinal cord injury.

K. Pritchett, R.C. Pritchett, and Stark are with Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA. Broad is with United States Olympic Committee, Chula Vista, CA. LaCroix is with Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Kelly Pritchett at pritchettk@cwu.edu.
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