The coronavirus induced lockdown that was imposed to control the transmission of the virus forced athletes to stay indoors and resume their training either in the early morning hours or in the evening, and this adjustment has resulted in low Vitamin D levels in country's top athletes.
Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is crucial in bone health, but recent research has pointed out its essential role in extraskeletal functions, including muscle growth, immunity and inflammatory modulation, which influence athletic performance.
The athletes have reportedly been going through a tough time regaining muscle memory to play a stroke, working on their reflex game and getting used to training regimens after a long lockdown-induced break.
"Interestingly a lot of our athletes are lacking in Vitamin D. We were thinking about whether it was due to the lockdown. They spend so much time inside and not outside. It might be one of the reasons. Vitamin D is produced by sunlight. We took blood samples after the lockdown in June. In general, they were more or less back in their rooms, it is one possible explanation," Athletics Federation of India's (AFI) high-performance director Volker Herrmann Herrmann told The Indian Express.
He stated that a deficiency of Vitamin D was observed in all national campers in Patiala following results of blood tests in June. Adding, that vitamin supplements were later given to the athletes after the test results were out. He said that a lack of Vitamin D can adversely affect athletes as it is central to calcium absorption of the body
"Vitamin D helps with recovery, especially of the muscles and it also reduces the recovery time. That is the main aspect. Vitamin D is also related to bone density. Sometimes athletes are dealing with stress fractures and that can be due to overload but it can also be because of Vitamin D deficiency," Herrmann said.
Hinting at a possible iron deficiency among the athletes, he said, "With performance athletes, we take these blood samples around every three months because you have to ensure that no athlete is dealing with any deficiency. One of the main problems is iron as well because they can't eat red meat. Especially female athletes are often dealing with the deficiency in iron. We need to monitor this very closely. We are working with recovery experts and nutritionists to find ways to (improve levels) in a natural way and if required with supplements as well. Iron supplements were added only if required. We are trying to get food which has natural iron as well."