NFL player injuries linked to low 'D'

July 20, 2011

Vitamin D deficiency may be unusually high among American football players, with black players and those with muscle injuries showing significantly lower levels, Medscape Today reports.

Berkeley Heights, N.J. - Vitamin D deficiency may be unusually high among American football players, with black players and those with muscle injuries showing significantly lower levels, Medscape Today reports.

Berkeley Heights orthopedic surgeon Michael K. Shindle, M.D., led a research team that tested the vitamin D levels of 89 players from the National Football League’s New York Giants in the spring of 2010. Investigators found that 27 players - about 30 percent - had deficient total 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels (below 20 ng/mL) and as many as 45 players - just over half - had levels consistent with vitamin D insufficiency (between 20 and 31.9 ng/mL).

Meanwhile, only 17 players - about 19 percent - had vitamin D levels that were within normal limits.

The percentage of players with abnormal vitamin D levels was “alarming,” according to Dr. Shindle.

Researchers also found that all players who had suffered injuries that caused them to miss at least one practice or game had vitamin D levels significantly lower than players with no muscle injury.

Of the players tested, 31 were white and 58 black. Noting that blacks generally tend to have lower vitamin D levels than whites, Medscape Today quotes Dr. Shindle as saying, “Up to 93 percent of African-American players had abnormal vitamin D levels, compared with 31 percent of white players.”

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, held recently in San Diego.