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THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

A Journal on Applied Physiology, Biomechanics, Preventive Medicine,
Sports Medicine and Traumatology, Sports Psychology


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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2018 Mar 01

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.08122-7

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

A profile of body composition, omega-3 and vitamin D in National Football League players

Malia N. BLUE 1, 2, Eric T. TREXLER 1, 2, Katie R. HIRSCH 1, 2, Abbie E. SMITH-RYAN 1, 2

1 Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 2 Human Movement Science Curriculum, Department of Allied Health Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA


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BACKGROUND: Body composition (%BF), omega-3 and vitamin D (VitD) status are important components of an athlete’s individual physiological profile, as each measure has potential to influence performance, inflammation, and injury recovery. The purpose of this study was to characterize %BF, omega-3, and VitD in a subset of professional football athletes. Secondary analyses investigated changes in %BF, omega-3, and VitD, throughout a competitive season, and evaluated the relationship between physiological variables, race, and injury prevalence.
METHODS: Forty-two professional football players (Age: 24.0±2.4 yrs; Height: 186.8±5.9 cm; Weight: 108.8±19.4 kg) volunteered to participate. A-mode ultrasonography measured %BF and the percentage of highly unsaturated fatty acid content comprised of omega-3s was determined by an omega-3 bloodspot test. Vitamin D levels and injury prevalence were obtained from the team athletic trainer.
RESULTS: Omega-3 was moderately correlated with VitD (R=0.397, p=0.030). Throughout the season there was a significant decrease in omega-3 percentage (∆=-2.47±5.48%, p=0.030), no change in body composition (∆=0.26±1.97%, p=0.482) and a significant increase in VitD (∆=9.03 ± 19.46 ng/mL, p=0.015). VitD was significantly higher in white athletes (48.00±13.73 ng/mL) than black athletes (27.09±9.28 ng/mL; p<0.001) and athletes of other races (23.33±4.73 ng/mL; p=0.004).
CONCLUSIONS: Throughout the season, %BF was maintained, VitD levels increased, and omega-3 decreased. White athletes had significantly higher VitD levels than athletes of all other races. There were no differences in the physiological variables between injury severity categories. The results from the current study provides support for the potential importance of VitD and omega-3 supplementation for professional football athletes.


KEY WORDS: Sports nutrition sciences - Athletes - Body composition - Football

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Publication History

Article first published online: March 01, 2018
Manuscript accepted: February 8, 2018
Manuscript revised: January 29, 2018
Manuscript received: September 1, 2017

Cite this article as

Blue MN, Trexler ET, Hirsch KR, Smith-Ryan AE. A profile of body composition, omega-3 and vitamin D in National Football League players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2018 Mar 01. DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.08122-7

Corresponding author e-mail

abbsmith@email.unc.edu