Association Between Vitamin D Status and Maximal-Intensity Exercise Performance in Junior and Collegiate Hockey Players

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Fitzgerald, JS, Peterson, BJ, Warpeha, JM, Johnson, SC, and Ingraham, SJ. Association between vitamin D status and maximal-intensity exercise performance in junior and collegiate hockey players. J Strength Cond Res 29(9): 2513–2521, 2015—Recent evidence suggests that athletes are at risk for poor vitamin D status. This study used a cross-sectional design to investigate the strength of association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration and measures of maximal-intensity exercise performance in competitive hockey players. Fifty-three collegiate and junior male ice hockey players training near Minneapolis, MN (44.9° N latitude) participated in the study during the off-season (May 16–June 28). Circulating 25(OH)D concentration, grip strength, vertical jump performance, and power production during the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT) were evaluated. Despite no athletes with 25(OH)D concentration indicative of deficiency (<20 ng·mL−1), positive bivariate correlations were detected between vitamin D status, relative grip strength (p = 0.024), and peak power during the WAnT (p = 0.035). Only for relative grip strength (p = 0.043), did 25(OH)D concentration predict performance after adjusting for level of play, fat-free mass, fat mass, and self-reported total physical activity in sequential linear regression. Vitamin D status was positively associated with starting gradient (p = 0.020) during the squat jump, with higher concentrations associated with increased rate of force development in the initial portion of the jump. Interventional trials should investigate the impact of vitamin D supplementation on maximal-intensity exercise performance outcomes and rate of force development in large samples of vitamin D–deficient athletes while controlling for training exposure. Our data indicate that if vitamin D status is causally related to maximal-intensity exercise performance in athletes, the effect size is likely small.

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