High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in athletes and dancers

Clin J Sport Med. 2010 Sep;20(5):368-71. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181f207f2.


Objective: Vitamin D insufficiency is prevalent in various populations worldwide but with scarce data on physically active individuals. Vitamin D is important to athletes, affecting bone mass, immunity, and physical performance. This study evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency among young athletes and dancers.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: : Sport medicine clinic.

Patients: Data on 98 athletes and dancers (age, 14.7 +/- 3.0 years; range, 10-30 years; 53% men), who had undergone screening medical evaluations, were extracted from medical records.

Independent variable: Serum 25(OH)D concentrations.

Main outcome measures: Serum 25(OH)D concentrations, age, sex, sport discipline, month of blood test, and serum ferritin. Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as serum 25(OH)D concentration <30 ng/mL.

Results: Mean serum 25(OH)D concentration was 25.3 +/- 8.3 ng/mL. Seventy-three percent of participants were vitamin D insufficient. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency was higher among dancers (94%), basketball players (94%), and Tae Kwon Do fighters (67%) and among athletes from indoor versus outdoor sports (80% vs 48%; P = 0.002). 25(OH)D levels adjusted for age and sex correlated with serum ferritin and season.

Conclusions: In this study, conducted among young athletes and dancers from various disciplines in a sunny country, a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency was identified. A higher rate of vitamin D insufficiency was found among participants who practice indoors, during the winter months, and in the presence of iron depletion. Given the importance of vitamin D to athletes for several reasons, we suggest that athletes and dancers be screened for vitamin D insufficiency and treated as needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Calcifediol / blood*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Calcifediol