The use of sport supplements presents a dilemma for many of those involved in supporting athletes, including coaches, families, support staff, and the athletes themselves. Often the information that they source can be incorrect and promote a biased view regarding the use of nutritional supplements. The aim of this case study was to describe the process that occurred around the development of a series of targeted educational fact sheets on a range of nutritional supplements for Irish athletes. It describes the initiation and support of the process by the Irish Sports Council; one of its subgroups, the Food and Food Supplements Committee; and the Irish Institute of Sport. A needs assessment through questionnaires was carried out to establish the most commonly used sport nutrition supplements by athletes age 16 or over in Ireland. Respondents completed 105 questionnaires over a 4-mo period in 2008–09 that led to the production of 20 supplement fact sheets. These supplement fact sheets will enable Irish athletes to access high-quality, up-to-date, scientific information about the supplements they have reported consuming. Since personal reading had a strong influence over athletes’ decision-making process for taking nutritional supplements, as did scientific research, fact sheets available on the Internet from a reliable source are an ideal way to educate Irish athletes.
The Development of Nutritional-Supplement Fact Sheets for Irish Athletes: A Case Study
Kate L. Pumpa, Sharon M. Madigan, Ruth E. Wood-Martin, Richelle Flanagan, and Noreen Roche
Vitamin D Status and Supplementation in Elite Irish Athletes
Pamela J. Magee, L. Kirsty Pourshahidi, Julie M. W. Wallace, John Cleary, Joe Conway, Edward Harney, and Sharon M. Madigan
A high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency, which may impact on health and training ability, is evident among athletes worldwide. This observational study investigated the vitamin D status of elite Irish athletes and determined the effect of wintertime supplementation on status.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], calcium, and plasma parathyroid hormone were analyzed in elite athletes in November 2010 (17 boxers, 33 paralympians) or March 2011 (34 Gaelic Athletic Association [GAA] players). A subset of boxers and paralympians (n = 27) were supplemented during the winter months with either 5,000 IU vitamin D3/d for 10–12 weeks or 50,000 IU on one or two occasions. Biochemical analysis was repeated following supplementation.
Median 25(OH)D of all athletes at baseline was 48.4 nmol/L. Vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency (serum 25(OH)D <50 nmol/L) was particularly evident among GAA players (94%) due to month of sampling. Wintertime supplementation (all doses) significantly increased 25(OH)D (median 62.8 nmol/L at baseline vs. 71.1 nmol/L in April or May; p = .001) and corrected any insufficiencies/deficiencies in this subset of athletes. In contrast, 25(OH)D significantly decreased in those that did not receive a vitamin D supplement, with 74% of athletes classed as vitamin D insufficient/deficient after winter, compared with only 35% at baseline.
This study has highlighted a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency among elite Irish athletes and demonstrated that wintertime vitamin D3 supplementation is an appropriate regimen to ensure vitamin D sufficiency in athletes during winter and early spring.