It's astounding that Wilt Chamberlain at least scored 50 points in 118 different games; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar racked up 38,387 points in 20 seasons; and Michael Jordan scored an average of 37.1 points per game one season.
With so much talent and stamina, it's hard to imagine that those basketball powerhouses were deficient in vitamin D, which is essential for everything from bone strength to immune system health.
But that's what researchers from the Mayo Clinic and George Mason University are suggesting. They looked at the vitamin D levels of the university's NCAA basketball team, and it turned out that those athletes were likely to have vitamin D deficiency.
How could that be? Well, because like pro players, college basketball players spend as many as 40-60 hours a week indoors practicing, reviewing films, training, and playing games – not to mention time spent in airports, buses, and hotel rooms.
The study, published in the journal Nutrition, found that 65% of 20 university players were vitamin D deficient, especially those who were African American. And the researchers found that taking 10,000 IU of D3 a day over five months eased the deficiency, but did not (except for one player) get D up to healthy levels.
So if you are a competitive basketball player, indoor swimmer, or squash or ping pong player – or if you do hours of mall walking – ask your doctor for a blood test to check your D levels.
You want 20 ng/dL or higher, but not above 50 ng/dL. Aim to take in 600 IU of vitamin D each day through food (mushrooms, enriched cereals, low-fat dairy, and fatty fish like salmon and ocean trout), and discuss supplement levels with your doctor.
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