Low vitamin D levels associated with higher risk of muscle strain among elite-level football players
DENVER — Athletes in the National Football League Scouting Combine who had low vitamin D levels experienced a higher risk of lower extremity muscle strain, according to results presented here.
“There is a high prevalence of inadequate vitamin D levels in NFL Combine athletes,” Brian C. Werner, MD, said in his presentation at the Arthroscopy Association of North America Annual Meeting. “Lower extremity possible strain and sports hernia pulled-muscle injury risk was shown to be associated with low vitamin D levels and there was the highest risk for hamstring injury.”
Werner and colleagues looked at serum vitamin D levels reported during the NFL Scouting Combine in 2015, as well as player age, race, BMI, playing position, and injury history of motor extremity and muscle strain or core muscle injury. Werner noted serum vitamin D levels above 32 nanograms per mL were considered normal.
Results showed 59% of players had inadequate vitamin D levels. Of these players, 10% had severe vitamin D deficiency of less than 20 ng per mL.
“There was a significant difference in the average vitamin D level for African-American NFL Combine athletes compared to Caucasian athletes,” Werner said. “Some of this difference could be due to the presence or absence of the vitamin D-binding protein, which was shown in other studies.”
When athletes were categorized into groups for normal vitamin D levels, insufficient levels and deficient levels, regression analysis showed a 1.86-times higher odds of having a lower extremity muscle strain or pulled muscle injury among players with low vitamin D.
“When you looked just at hamstring injury, which we could do a subgroup analysis on because there were a large number of them, there was about a 3.3-times higher risk of having a hamstring injury if [players] had low vitamin D compared with players with normal vitamin D, controlling for all of the other variables that we mentioned,” Werner said. – by Casey Tingle
Rebolledo B, et al. Paper #SS-40. Presented at: Arthroscopy Association of North America Annual Meeting; May 18-20, 2017; Denver.
Disclosure: Werner reports no relevant financial disclosures.