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D is for Dancers – the vitamin, that is!

 

*Graphic: precisionnutrition.com

by Janine Bryant for The Dance Journal

When thinking about dancers and the nutrition/injury prevention link, it is interesting consider some of the information available on Vitamin D deficiency and its effects on athletic performance.  For dancers, whose training usually takes place indoors and out of the sun, a deficiency in this vitamin could cause an increase in soft tissue injuries during the winter months. {1} Common soft tissue injuries in dancers are strains, sprains and tendonitis.

*The sun is a primary source for Vitamin D:  Vitamin D is produced endogenously (growing from within an organism, tissue or cell) when UV-B rays from sunlight hit unexposed skin. As soon as the sunlight reaches the skin, it triggers vitamin D synthesis.

Research finds:

Professional ballerinas have a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency, improving slightly during summer months. Dancers also are more likely to get injured during the winter, according to research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.{1}

Roger Wolman, MD, of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, UK, and colleagues recruited 18 ballet dancers from a single international touring dance company. The participants were professional Caucasian dancers who dance an average of 6-8 hours per day, 38 hours per week. A lifestyle questionnaire and blood samples were completed in February and August 2010. Company doctors kept track of any injuries that occurred during the study period. Dr. Wolman and colleagues found that during winter season, all dancers were either insufficient, or deficient in vitamin D levels. During summer months the authors noted significant improvement, with 3 dancers with vitamin D levels, while 14 were insufficient and 2 deficient. The authors also found that serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) significantly decreased during this time. Chronically high PTH is associated with vitamin D deficiency and can lead to problems with the thyroid.{1}

RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in incidence of injury between winter and summer months. They conclude: Further studies on the impact of vitamin D3 supplementation on markers of bone metabolism, muscle function and injury profile would help to enhance our understanding of this important area of metabolism in athletes/dance.{1}

Dancer/athletes could most certainly benefit from awareness of vitamin D deficiencies and subsequent effects on injury and performance.

Food Sources of Vitamin D {2}:

  •     The flesh of fatty fish:  salmon, tuna, mackerel
  •     Fish liver oils
  •     Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks (found in smaller amounts)
  •     The U.S. milk supply is fortified with vitamin D @ 100/IU per cup
  •     Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals contain added vitamin D
  •     Some brands of orange juice, yogurt and margarine

This article is by no means complete in its listing of effects of vitamin D deficiency.  The immediate aim, however, is to help dancers become aware of the possible effects associated with both indoor sport activities and inadequate nutrient intakes with a focus on vitamin D deficiency.

Additional information on effects of vitamin D deficiency can be found here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/vitamin-d-deficiency/expert-answers/FAQ-20058397

Until next time, dance healthy and strong, friends!

Janine Bryant
Co-Director of Dance
Faculty of Biokinetics, Education
and the Campolo College for Graduate and Professional Studies
Eastern University, St. David’s Pa.
jbryant3@eastern.edu

IADMS

Wolman R, Wyon MA, Koutedakis Y, Nevill AM, Eastell R, Allen N. Vitamin D status in professional ballet dancers: Winter vs. summer. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2013.
National Institute of Health:  nih.gov

- Janine Bryant

Janine Bryant, Co-Director of the Eastern University Dance Program, or ‘Prof B.’, as her students call her, teaches courses for Dance, Biokinetics and the Campolo College of Graduate Studies. She has been teaching technique and choreographing classical and contemporary ballets for more than twenty years. Janine received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance from the University of the Arts in 1986. In the early 1980’s, Janine was a scholarship student at the Martha Graham School and studied with Martha Graham, Diane Gray, Kevin Keenan, Yuriko, Pearl Lang, Peggy Lyman, Ethel Winter, Jacqueline Bulglisi, Don Foreman, Marianne Bachmann, and Armgard Von Barteleben. While in New York, Janine danced with the Pearl Lang Dance Company and appeared in the cast of Ms. Lang’s “The Beloved”, filmed at Brooklyn College. Janine also worked with Lynne Lesniak and Dancers, an offshoot of the Alwin Nikolai Company.

In addition to her studies at the Graham School in New York, Janine was also on scholarship at the Peridance Center where she worked with Igal Perry, Miguel Moore and Zvi Gottheiner. Independently, Janine studied with Finis Jhung, David Howard and Madame Gabriella Darvash (Kirov technique). She also worked with Kathy Grant in New York to learn the Pilates method. As a member of Philadelphia Dance Theatre, Janine was chosen to dance the solo role of Doris Humphrey’s “The Call and Breath of Fire” and was personally coached by Ernestine Stodelle in New York and at her home in Connecticut for the role.

In the fall of 1990, Janine was one of two Americans accepted to study at The Royal Academy of Dancing in London, and earned her Elementary Executant Certification and her Pre-Elementary Teaching Certification. Both certifications are recognized in 52 countries worldwide. IN 1991, Janine founded The Professional School (TPS) in Turnersville, NJ, and directed the school through 2002. TPS was a technique-based studio where many of her high school seniors received college scholarships and several won the University of the Arts’ Presidential Merit Scholarship worth $20,000. She has been a frequent guest lecturer at The University of the Arts where she received their prestigious Silver Star Alumni Award in 1996. The Silver Star Alumni award has been bestowed upon nearly 100 graduates of the University’s College of Art and Design and College of Performing Arts. The honorees are selected because they are role models and represent educational and artistic excellence that the University’s faculty works hard to achieve.

Janine was a visiting guest artist for the Black Rock Dance Company in Reno, Nevada, where she created new works and taught master classes. She was recently added to the guest faculty of DeSales University for their Summer Intensive programs. Janine is a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and Dance UK and is currently earning her PhD in Dance Medicine and Science from The University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. Her research focuses on the aging dancer and range of motion. Janine is passionate about teaching solid technique grounded in sound anatomic and biomechanical principles at a university level. Janine lives in Audubon, PA with her husband, two sons and two cats.

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