Low levels of vitamin D in professional basketball players after wintertime: relationship with dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium

Nutr Hosp. Sep-Oct 2011;26(5):945-51. doi: 10.1590/S0212-16112011000500004.


Introduction: Although vitamin D deficiency has a high worldwide prevalence among the general population, very little is known about vitamin status in athletes.

Aim: To investigate serum vitamin D (25[OH]D) levels after wintertime in male elite basketball players, and to relate these levels to the dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium.

Methods: Subjects were 21 players from the same professional Spanish team. Blood samples to assess 25(OH)D levels were collected after wintertime during the 2008/2009 (April) and 2009/2010 (March) seasons. In addition, athletes completed 4-day dietary records to estimate energy consumption and a food frequency questionnaire to determine dietary vitamin D and calcium intake. Serum 25(OH)D levels were 47.8±21.8 nmol/L, with twelve subjects (57%) being vitamin D deficient (<50 nmol/L).

Results: Vitamin D intake was 139±78 IU/day and calcium intake was 948±419 mg/day. Serum 25(OH)D levels correlated with the daily dietary intake of vitamin D (r=0.65; P=0.001) and calcium (r=0.82; P<0.001).

Conclusion: Professional basketball players are at higher risk of hypovitaminosis D after wintertime. Adequate intake of dietary calcium and vitamin D is required if athletes are to avoid low serum 25(OH)D levels when exposure to sunlight is limited.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Basketball / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seasons
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamins / blood*
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*
  • Whites
  • Young Adult


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D