Vitamin D and Dancers Campaign
Why do dancers need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a key nutrient to build strong bones by helping the body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D supplementation has also been associated with increased vertical jump height and isometric strength (strength where a muscle is contracted but is not moving), and reduced injury among elite ballet dancers (Wyon, et. al., 2013).
Limited hours of sunlight in the UK, and the fact that many dancers cannot get outside during daylight hours because of classes and rehearsals leads to a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency. A 2013 study indicated that ballet dancers had insufficient Vitamin D levels, especially in winter months (Wolman, et. al., 2013). Research also suggests that dancers should be screened for vitamin D insufficiency and treated for any problems (Constantini NW, et. al., 2010).
Dr Roger Wolman, National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) partner and consultant in rheumatology and sport and exercise medicine at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, said: “We know vitamin D [deficiency] can affect the bones. What’s become clear … is vitamin D is also important for muscles. It might not have an intense effect on your average office worker but on someone doing very intensive training, putting a lot of stress on their bones and muscles, it can be significant.”
How much Vitamin D does a dancer need?
UK recommendations for Vitamin D supplementation vary, but dancers are considered an at risk population because of their severely limited exposure to sunlight. People with a darker skin tone will also require a greater amount of sunlight exposure as the process of making Vitamin D takes longer so may benefit from a supplement.
Dr Wolman recommends that dancers need about 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day to maintain healthy levels, but if they are deficient in Vitamin D, they will require more. (If dancers don’t know if they are deficient, Dr Wolman recommends that they should take 1000 IU per day.)
What are the best food sources of Vitamin D?
|Table 3: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D |
|Food||IUs per serving*||Percent DV**|
|Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon||1,360||340|
|Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces||566||142|
|Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces||447||112|
|Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces||154||39|
|Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies)||137||34|
|Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup||115-124||29-31|
|Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV)||80||20|
|Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon||60||15|
|Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines||46||12|
|Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces||42||11|
|Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk)||41||10|
|Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV)||40||10|
|Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce||6||2|
Find out more
From 28th March to 4th April 2016, One Dance UK launched a social media campaign, #VitDforDance, to highlight the value of Vitamin D for dancers’ health. Just as the sun came out for spring, dancers had a chance to test their Vit D knowledge and learn fun facts and share their favorite recipes using the hashtags #VitDforDance and #FindTheLight. The campaign was part of One Dance UK’s work promoting healthier dance practice.
Links to further information and research:
- Wyon MA, Koutedakis Y, Wolman R, Nevill AM, Allen N (2014) The influence of winter vitamin D supplementation on muscle function and injury occurrence in elite ballet dancers: A controlled study. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 17(1):8-12
- Wolman R, Wyon MA, Koutedakis Y, Nevill AM, Eastell R, Allen N. (2013) Vitamin D status in professional ballet dancers: winter vs. summer. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 16(5):388-91
- Constantini NW, Arieli R, Chodick G, Dubnov-Raz G. (2010) High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in athletes and dancers. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 20(5):368-71.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: Tips for Dancers. Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health
- Bone Health and Female Dancers – Physical and Nutritional Guidelines. International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS)