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Athletes need sun

Tuesday July 30th, 2013

Athletes who train in the shade may be making themselves vulnerable to the common cold virus, researchers have warned.

A new study suggests that the sunshine vitamin, D, is critical to ensuring athletes have resistance to the virus.

Researchers said those with low levels of the vitamin could be up to three times more likely to contract a cold than others.

The Loughborough University, UK, researchers studied some 225 endurance athletes undertaking sports such as cycling, triathlon, long distance running and swimming.

Researcher Professor Michael Gleeson said even those training outdoors might not get enough sunlight during the British winter.

The researchers found that 38% of athletes had low levels of vitamin D at the outset of the study. This increased to 55% during four months of the winter, they report in Exercise Immunology Review.

Professor Gleeson said: “It seems that many athletes, even those training mostly outdoors, do not get enough sunlight in the winter months in the UK to maintain normal vitamin D status and that this increases their risk of picking up respiratory infections.

“Athletes hate the thought of picking up colds as even minor ailments can impair their training and performance or even stop them from competing.”

Influence of vitamin D status on respiratory infection incidence and immune function during 4 months of winter training in endurance sport athletes. Exercise Immunology Review 19: 86-101.

Tags: Fitness | Flu & Viruses | UK News

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