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Dancers need more vitamin D

They make it look so easy!  But their bodies are working hard, often without all the nutrients they need...

It has been discovered that professional ballet dancers have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, which only decreases slightly during the summer months. The dancers are also more prone to injury during the winter. Now, research shows that a strong vitamin D supplement could increase their muscle strength and reduce injuries.

A group of researchers wanted to investigate the effect supplementation with vitamin D3 would have on muscle function and injuries in a group of full-time elite dancers. They train indoors throughout the year and don't get much sun exposure - the best way to make vitamin D in the body. The study involved 24 professional dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, which on average danced 6-8 hours per day, 38 hours per week.

The previous year, the dancers had their vitamin D status measured in the summer and winter. These measurements revealed that all the dancers had either low vitamin D levels (10-30 ng / ml) or had an outright deficiency (<10 ng / ml) in the winter months, and only 15% had a normal level at the end of the summer. None of the participants had taken vitamin supplements or had been to sunny countries three months before the start of the study.

Of the 24 dancers, seven volunteered as a control group. However, they were promised a similar vitamin D supplement after completion of the study. The vitamin D group consisted of 17 dancers who received 2000 IU vitamin D3 equivalent to 50 micrograms per day. The study lasted four month from January to May.

The researchers examined the following points:

  • Muscular strength, where they tested the thigh muscles in the strongest leg in an isometric test, ie. you contract the muscles without moving the leg or the joint
  • Muscular power, which was measured from standing vertical jumps
  • Injuries, any injury that prevented the dancer fully taking part in all kinds of dance-related activity for a period of 24 hours or longer counted as an injury

After four months, the study showed that the vitamin D group had achieved a significant 19% increase in performance related to isometric strength in the legs compared to the control group. Muscular power was also improved by 7.2% in the vitamin D group, whereas the control group experienced a 2% decline of muscle power during the same period.

Injuries are a common part of a dancer's life. In the course of a year, almost half of a large group of professional dancers suffered from an injury in the muscles or bones, which meant that they could not train for a period of 1-6 days. It is most often injuries to the lower back, hips legs, knees and feet. The study showed that the vitamin D group had significantly fewer and less severe injuries than the control group.

The researchers ended up recommending that all dancers in the future get a vitamin D supplement during the winter.

Comment : The rest of us would probably recommend supplements of vitamin D throughout the year for this target group, especially since only 15% had optimal D levels in summer months. The result of the study also confirms a U.S. study from 2012 which showed that among young girls who participate in tough sports, the girls with the highest vitamin D intake are 51% less likely to get so-called stress fractures compared with girls who have the lowest intake.

Pharma Nord Vitamin D3 Supplements

Bio-Vitamin D3 is a world class vitamin D3 supplement, made to pharmaceutical standards.  We take tiny gel 'pearls' and add natural vitamin D3 (the same as made in the body) along with organic olive oil.  They are blister packed for safety and freshness too.  Find out more here.

Taking 2 of our 1000IU capsules daily would replicate what the dancers took in this study.

RefWyon MA, et al. The influence of winter vitamin D supplementation on muscle function and injury occurrence in elite ballet dancers: A controlled study. J sci Med Sport; 2013. E-pub ahead of print.

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