Key Points about Vitamin D and Basketball Performance

Key Points about Vitamin D and Basketball Performance

How important is vitamin D for athletes and does it affect their performance? Can vitamin D deficiency lead to injury? I try to explain in the following article how an athlete, particularly in an indoor sport such as basketball, should take care of vitamin D levels. Make sure and take note of the recommendations on vitamin D and basketball that I give you here.

Vitamin D and sport

Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient, which, although we can synthesise in the skin from sunlight, would not be enough to reach the necessary requirements.

Basketball players sun deficiency

Where do you play basketball – indoors or outdoors? It may be a clue to your Vitamin D levels.

In addition to being a micronutrient, it’s a prohormone. This vitamin is fat-soluble and is found dissolved in the fatty part of some foods (Ching et al, 2017).

It is especially found in fish, eggs and whole dairy products.

You can find out all the properties of the so-called sunshine vitamin in HSN’s post on its blog. Get to it from this link.

Why is vitamin D important for athletes?

All its functions are considered essential for everyone, but especially for athletes, people with greater nutritional needs.

Review the main roles of vitamin D in the body:

  • Its main role is the regulation of calcium homeostasis together with parathyroid hormone, which is essential for bone development.
  • It also has other roles in protein synthesis, in the immune system, and in the reduction of the inflammatory response, cardiovascular functions, cell growth and in the nervous system with its neuroprotective effect.

Relationship with sports performance

Vitamin D deficiency, as we’ll see below, leads to low or non-existent performance, which is why it’s important to establish correct monitoring of these levels.

Does vitamin D affect an athlete's performance?

Vitamin D for the performance of sports professionals.

In addition to avoiding vitamin D deficiency problems, several studies have found positive results with good vitamin D levels and supplementation with vitamin D products.

For example, in a study of 61 athletes, a positive correlation was found between improved muscle performance in vertical jumps and 10-metre sprint times and supplementation with 5,000 IU of vitamin D for 8 consecutive weeks (Close et al, 2013).

In one review (Hiang et al, 2017), it was found that D2 supplementation appeared to be ineffective on muscle strength, but in a subsequent study with vitamin D3 at 2,000 IU for 4 weeks, they concluded that there was improvement in muscle function parameters.

Another observational study indicates that athletes with the highest vitamin D levels were associated with fewer injuries (Todd et al, 2015).

In basketball studies in particular, vitamin D has been attributed an important role in performance, as participants with higher vitamin D levels were more likely to be drafted into the NBA (Grieshober et al 2018).

Supplements for basketball players

Despite the number of studies that suggest that vitamin D can improve athletic performance, there is still much research to be done.

Vitamin D deficiency in athletes

This is a very common feature among professional athletes. In fact, in a meta-analysis of more than 2,300 athletes, it was found that more than 56% had deficient vitamin D levels (Wicinsky et al, 2019).

How does such a deficit affect the athlete? It can affect muscle function, recovery time and inflammatory processes, as well as strength-to-power ratios (Dahlquist et al, 2015).

Geographical conditions of vitamin D levels

It depends on variables such as the geographical area where the athlete lives, latitude, hours of sunshine, hours of sun exposure, pollution, time of year, diet, skin colour, etc. (Puente et al, 2020).

In this regard, there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and common colds, infections, gastroenteritis, as well as a high incidence of respiratory pathologies (Ksiazek et al 2016).

Recommended levels

There is no consensus among researchers on vitamin D levels for optimal health (Chiang et al, 2016), although there is consensus on what levels begin to be considered deficient and are associated with the most problematic pathologies.

What are the optimal levels of Vitamin D?

Illustration 1 Puente et al, 2020.

Are basketball players the most affected?

Like other indoor sports (with low or no sun exposure), basketball is one of the most affected sports.

There is a study, carried out on 279 NBA players over 4 years, where the results showed that:

  • In 90 players (32.3%) the levels were deficient, in 58 players (47%) they were insufficient and in 58 players (20.8%) they had sufficient levels. So, of a total of 221 players, (79.3%) were vitamin D deficient or insufficient (P.Fishman et al 2016).
As an important and key fact for athletes, remember that vitamin D interferes with bone health, so a deficit in the body increases the risk of fracture (Puente et al 2020), leading to serious sports injury.

Seasonality and vitamin D

As mentioned above, latitude and seasonality affect vitamin D levels, as the tilt of the earth and the incidence of the sun’s rays influence the type of sun exposure (Ann R. Webb and Ola Engelsen).

Indoor sports Vitamin D deficit

The amount of sunshine needed to achieve good vitamin D levels will also depend on weather conditions and skin colour (Terushkin et al 2010).

The seasonal variation in vitamin D levels is reflected in outdoor sports such as football.

A study of 20 English Premier League players living at a latitude of 53°N showed that vitamin D levels decreased between August and December, leading to deficits in the winter months.

As a result, vitamin D supplementation in Premier League players during the winter months would be advantageous for maintaining muscle function, among other sporting functions (Morton et al, 2012).

Does vitamin D protect athletes from injury?

It does protect against various injuries and prevent underperformance. Good vitamin D levels promote good performance. On the other hand, insufficiency and deficiency cause various problems and unnecessary risks for athletes.

HSN professional sports supplements

HSN Supplements, count on the best help for your performance.

For this reason, monitoring vitamin D levels, especially before the onset of winter, is essential for working out whether vitamin D supplementation is necessary.

Vitamin D supplementation

Vitamin D supplementation plays a key role for athletes in the winter months.

How are these vitamin D supplements taken? The most convenient format is in pearls, as opposed to drops or capsules.

And the type? Colecalciferol (D3) is better than the ergocalciferol form (D2).

HSN EssentialSeries Vegan Vitamin D3

Choose from the Vitamin D options available in the HSN catalogue.

In the case of the HSN supplement in pearls: Vitamin D3 4,000 IU, it’s accompanied by oils rich in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). This is a supplement with a high nutritional quality, accompanied by these fats, which improves the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamin.

And how much should you take? A dose of one 4,000 IU pearl per day is recommended, especially during the winter months, and throughout the season for indoor sports.

The Movistar Estudiantes men’s and women’s squads use this product, also available in a vegan option, to ensure optimal levels of Vitamin D and obtain the best sports results.

Bibliographical sources

Related links you shouldn’t miss out on:.

  • Go here to find out more about vitamin D levels and performance in the world of sport.
  • Do you know what correct nutrition entails for a professional basketball player? Read this complete post from inside the Movistar Estudiantes locker room…
  • …and read about all the HSN sports supplements used by the orange ball professionals too, by clicking here.
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About Alfonso Romero
Alfonso Romero
Alfonso Romero, nutritionist at Movistar Estudiantes
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