Vitamin D insufficiency is common in athletes and may lower physical performance. Many cross-sectional studies associate vitamin D status with physical performance in athletes; however, there have been few prospective randomized controlled trials with adequate statistical power to test this relationship, and none in the southern hemisphere. Thus, a prospective double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial was conducted involving 57 professional rugby union players in New Zealand. Participants were randomized to receive 50,000 IU of cholecalciferol (equivalent to 3,570 IU/day) or placebo once every two weeks over 11–12 weeks. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations and physical performance were measured at baseline, weeks 5–6, and weeks 11–12. Mean (SD) serum 25(OH)D concentrations for all participants at baseline was 94 (18) nmol/L, with all players above 50 nmol/L. Vitamin D supplementation significantly increased serum 25(OH)D concentrations compared to placebo, with a 32 nmol/L difference between groups at 11–12 weeks (95% CI, 26–38; p < 0.001). Performance in five of the six tests at study completion, including the primary outcome variable of 30-m sprint time, did not differ between the vitamin D supplemented and placebo groups (p > 0.05). Performance on the weighted reverse-grip chin up was significantly higher in players receiving vitamin D compared with placebo, by 5.5 kg (95% CI, 2.0–8.9; p = 0.002). Despite significantly improving vitamin D status in these professional rugby union players, vitamin D supplementation had little impact on physical performance outcomes. Thus, it is unlikely that vitamin D supplementation is an ergogenic aid in this group of athletes.
Kirsty A. Fairbairn, Ingrid J.M. Ceelen, C. Murray Skeaff, Claire M. Cameron and Tracy L. Perry
Floris C. Wardenaar, Rianne Dijkhuizen, Ingrid J.M. Ceelen, Emma Jonk, Jeanne H.M. De Vries, Renger F. Witkamp and Marco Mensink
The objective of this study was to investigate whether ultramarathon runners were able to meet nutrition recommendations during a training period and on a competition day.
In preparation for a 60 or 120 km ultramarathon covering a varied terrain, male and female ultramarathon runners (n = 68, age 46.5 ± 7.1 y) reported habitual dietary intake during three independent days using a web-based 24-hr recall and questionnaires. The diet was assessed using probability of inadequacy or by qualitative evaluation using reference dietary intakes or sports nutrition recommendations. A small group of 120 km runners (n = 4) was observed continuously during the race. After the race, 60 km runners (n = 41) received a questionnaire to assess dietary intake and gastrointestinal (GI) distress on the race day. Spearman rank correlation coefficients (r) were applied to investigate the association between intake and general GI distress symptoms.
In men and women, habitual mean carbohydrate (CHO) intake was lower than recommended, as was mean protein intake by women. CHO intake during the race was <60 g/h in 75% of the athletes. A large variation of nutrient and fluid intake was seen. GI distress during the race was reported in 82% of the runners; severe GI distress was low. In general, moderate, mostly negative, correlations with nutrient intake were seen for GI distress.
Sports nutrition recommendations for the habitual diet were not achieved. During a competition day, a large variation was found in nutrient intake; this may be related to a high incidence of GI distress.
Floris C. Wardenaar, Ingrid J.M. Ceelen, Jan-Willem Van Dijk, Roland W.J. Hangelbroek, Lore Van Roy, Britte Van der Pouw, Jeanne H.M. De Vries, Marco Mensink and Renger F. Witkamp
The use of nutritional supplements is highly prevalent among athletes. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed the prevalence of nutritional supplement use by a large group of Dutch competitive athletes in relation to dietary counseling. A total of 778 athletes (407 males and 371 females) completed a web-based questionnaire about the use of nutritional supplements. Log-binomial regression models were applied to estimate crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) for the use of individual nutritional supplements in athletes receiving dietary counseling as compared with athletes not receiving dietary counseling. Of the athletes, 97.2% had used nutritional supplements at some time during their sports career, whereas 84.7% indicated having used supplements during the last 4 weeks. The top ranked supplements used over the last 4 weeks from dietary supplements, sport nutrition products and ergogenic supplements were multivitamin and mineral preparations (42.9%), isotonic sports drinks (44.1%) and caffeine (13.0%). After adjustment for elite status, age, and weekly exercise duration, dietary counseling was associated with a higher prevalence of the use of vitamin D, recovery drinks, energy bars, isotonic drinks with protein, dextrose, beta-alanine, and sodium bicarbonate. In contrast, dietary counseling was inversely associated with the use of combivitamins, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, retinol, energy drinks and BCAA and other amino acids. In conclusion, almost all athletes had used nutritional supplements at some time during their athletic career. Receiving dietary counseling seemed to result in better-informed choices with respect to the use of nutritional supplements related to performance, recovery, and health.