The effects of vitamin D(3) supplementation on serum total 25[OH]D concentration and physical performance: a randomised dose-response study

Br J Sports Med. 2013 Jul;47(11):692-6. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091735. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Background: Vitamin D deficiency is common in the general public and athletic populations and may impair skeletal muscle function. We therefore assessed the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on serum 25[OH]D concentrations and physical performance.

Methods: 30 club-level athletes were block randomised (using baseline 25[OH]D concentrations) into one of three groups receiving either a placebo (PLB), 20 000 or 40 000 IU/week oral vitamin D3 for 12 weeks. Serum 25[OH]D and muscle function (1-RM bench press and leg press and vertical jump height) were measured presupplementation, 6 and 12 weeks postsupplementation. Vitamin D deficiency was defined in accordance with the US Institute of Medicine guideline (<50 nmol/l).

Results: 57% of the subject population were vitamin D deficient at baseline (mean±SD value 51±24 nmol/l). Following 6 and 12 weeks supplementation with 20 000 IU (79±14 and 85±10 nmol/l, respectively) or 40 000 IU vitamin D3 (98±14 and 91±24 nmol/l, respectively), serum vitamin D concentrations increased in all participants, with every individual achieving concentrations greater than 50 nmol/l. In contrast, vitamin D concentration in the PLB group decreased at 6 and 12 weeks (37±18 and 41±22 nmol/l, respectively). Increasing serum 25[OH]D had no significant effect on any physical performance parameter (p>0.05).

Conclusions: Both 20 000 and 40 000 IU vitamin D3 supplementation over a 6-week period elevates serum 25[OH]D concentrations above 50 nmol/l, but neither dose given for 12 weeks improved our chosen measures of physical performance.

Keywords: Muscle metabolism; Nutrition; Sports and nutrition; Supplements.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D