Nutritional status of the Finnish elite ski jumpers

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Abstract

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to determine the nutritional status of Finnish elite male ski jumpers (N = 21) and age-matched controls (N = 20).

Methods:

Nutritional status was assessed by estimating body composition with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), dietary intake with 4-d food records, and assessment of nutritional status was complemented with biochemical and hematological indices.

Results:

Mean (SD) age (19.7 (3.6) vs 19.8 (3.9) yr, P = 0.675) and stature (176.4 (6.0) vs 178.5 (5.5) cm, P = 0.259) were similar in ski jumpers and in controls, respectively. However, ski jumpers had a lower mean (SD) body weight (61.9 (4.8) vs 71.5 (9.0) kg, P < 0.001) and body fat percentage (8.6 (1.9) vs 16.1 (7.2) %, P < 0.001) than controls. The amount of bone-free lean soft tissue and bone mineral content (BMC) did not differ between the groups, but age- and bone-free lean soft tissue-adjusted bone mineral density (BMD) in lumbar spine (L2-4) and in proximal femur was greater in ski jumpers. Mean (SD) energy intake was lower in ski jumpers than in controls (7.4 (3.3) vs 11.0 (2.6) MJ, P = 0.001), respectively, whereas the percentage of energy derived from carbohydrates was higher in athletes. Despite the markedly lower energy consumption, intake of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and iron was similar in both groups, whereas intake of vitamins D and E, magnesium, and zinc was lower in ski jumpers than in controls (P-values range from 0.012 to 0.004). Biochemical and hematological indices showed no abnormalities in either group.

Conclusions:

These data suggest that despite the lower body weight and energy intake, nutritional status of the elite Finnish ski jumpers was not compromised as compared with that of nonathletic controls.

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