The effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on the aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance of recreational combat sport athletes

  • Andrew Marley

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Vitamin D is a secosteroid prohormone classically associated with calcium metabolism and bone health. However, emerging research suggests that vitamin D may also influence exercise performance. Most research on vitamin D and exercise performance focuses on markers of muscle strength, despite correlations existing between vitamin D status and VO2max. In study 1, the response to vitamin D3 supplementation at various doses on markers of aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance in recreational combat sport athletes was evaluated. Vitamin D3 supplementation increased lower body VO2peak by between 10-12% and upper body VO2peak by between 12-18% with improvements in peak power by 3-7% and 10-26% in the lower and upper body respectively with no additional benefit to consuming more than 50000IU.week-1. In the following study it was seen that vitamin D3 supplementation of 50000IU.week-1 in conjunction with concurrent lower and upper body sprint interval training (SIT) increased lower body VO2 peak by 8% in the vitamin D supplemented group with no change (-0.7%) in the placebo group. This was coupled with increases in lower body Wingate peak power by 22-25% and by 14-16% in vitamin D and placebo groups respectively. The final study investigated two weeks of vitamin D3 supplementation combined with SIT consisting of hill sprints and battle rope exercise. Vitamin D3 supplementation improved repeated sprint ability in the lower and upper body compared to placebo. All studies demonstrated that vitamin D3 supplementation can positively effect haematocrit and haemoglobin concentrations, implying a role of vitamin D in red blood cell health. Taken together, this implies that recreational combat athletes should supplement with vitamin D3 due to the high likelihood of this population group having suboptimal vitamin D status to induce aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance increases.
Date of AwardJun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorJohn Babraj (Supervisor) & Marie Clare Grant (Supervisor)


  • Cholecalciferol
  • MMA
  • Boxing
  • Judo
  • High intensity interval training
  • Sprint interval training

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