Vitamin D can help optimize muscle strength
One of the most complex vitamins! Vitamin D can be found in small amounts in a few foods, including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.
To make this vitamin more available, it is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then said to be “fortified with vitamin D.” But most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight. This vitamin can also be made in the laboratory as medicine.
Researchers have shown that increasing the levels of active vitamin D can help to optimize muscle strength in humans. The findings will inform the design of future supplementation studies, and begin to answer questions as to the optimal levels of this vitamin required for healthy muscles.
The study builds on previous knowledge showing inactive levels to be associated with a lack of muscle mass. The research is the result of a cutting-edge technique that allowed both active and inactive forms of this vitamin to be assessed alongside their impact on various muscle functions.
When you look at significant challenges facing healthcare providers across the world, such as obesity and an aging population, you can see how optimizing muscle function is of great interest.
Studies have tested for the inactive forms of this vitamin in the bloodstream, to measure vitamin D deficiency. Scientists were able to develop a new method of assessing multiple forms of this vitamin, alongside extensive testing of body composition, muscle function, and muscle gene expression.
Women with a healthy body composition and lower body fat are less likely to have high inactive levels, a marker of vitamin D deficiency. This was echoed by the finding that inactive levels were lower in women with increased body fat. This would suggest a relationship between this vitamin and body composition.
However, the active form of vitamin D is not associated with body fat but associated with lean mass. It may be that body fat is linked to increased levels of inactive vitamin D, but lean mass is the key for elevated levels of the active vitamin. Some of the positive associations between active levels of this vitamin and muscle bulk were not seen in men.
Higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy
Children are likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D in their body during pregnancy.
This vitamin low status has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children, but little is known about how variation in a mother’s status during pregnancy affects her child.
Low concentrations are common among young women, and although women are recommended to take an additional 10µg/day of this vitamin in pregnancy, supplementation is often not taken up.
When the children are four years old, grip strength and muscle mass are measured. Results show that the higher the levels of this vitamin in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced association between mother’s vitamin D and child’s muscle mass.
These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health. Muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures.
It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at children born to mothers with higher vitamin levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age.
Helps women build muscle even after menopause and demonstrates vitamin effectiveness in reducing degeneration and risk of falls. Vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase muscle strength and reduce the loss of body muscle mass in women as late as 12+ years after menopause.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in postmenopausal women worldwide, creating muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falling. Women not receiving this vitamin supplements are nearly two times as likely to fall.
The supplementation of this vitamin provides significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle.
Improved cholesterol profiles
Because this vitamin is involved in regulating the levels of minerals such as phosphorous and calcium. It is used for conditions caused by low levels of phosphorous and low levels of calcium.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause can improve women’s cholesterol profiles. And much of that effect is tied to raising this vitamin levels.
Among supplement users, those with higher blood levels of vitamin D had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL — the “good” cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides. Although for triglycerides to be lower, blood levels of this vitamin have to reach a threshold of about 15 ng/mL.
Taking the calcium and this vitamin supplements is especially helpful in raising the vitamin levels in women who are older, women who have a low intake, and women who have levels first measured in the winter.
But lifestyle also makes a difference. The supplements also do more to raise vitamin D levels in women who do not smoke and who drinks less alcohol.
Whether these positive effects of supplemental calcium and vitamin D on cholesterol will translate into benefits. Benefits such as lower rates of cardiovascular disease for women after menopause remains to be seen. But these results, are a good reminder that women at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency should consider taking calcium and this vitamin.
Helps Hormones and Bones
The supplements and hormones have a synergistic effect. Women using both, calcium and vitamin D, have much greater protection against hip fractures than with either single one alone. Taking supplements alone isn’t significantly better than taking no supplements and no hormones.
The benefit of hormone therapy is strong in women who had a total calcium intake (supplements plus diet) greater than 1,200 mg/day. Similarly, the benefit is strong in women who had higher intakes of this vitamin.
Women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy should also take supplemental calcium and vitamin D. Although it isn’t specified how much. They noted that the benefits seem to increase with increasing total intake of calcium and D vitamin. The dose will depend on keeping side effects, such as constipation from too much calcium, to a minimum.
Exposure To Sunlight
Sun exposure is an easy, reliable way for most people to get vitamin D. Exposure of the hands, face, arms, and legs to sunlight two to three times a week for about one-fourth of the time it would take to develop a mild sunburn will cause the skin to produce enough of this vitamin. The necessary exposure time varies with age, skin type, season, time of day.
It’s amazing how quickly adequate levels of this vitamin can be restored by sunlight. Just 6 days of casual sunlight exposure without sunscreen can make up for 49 days of no sunlight exposure. Body fat acts like a kind of storage battery for this vitamin. During periods of sunlight, vitamin D is stored in fatty fat and then released when sunlight is gone.
This should inspire even more women to be conscientious about their calcium and vitamin D intake. A simple and safe way to improve health. One action can lead to multiple benefits!