For children and adults, vitamin D is essential for developing healthy muscles

There is a growing body of evidence showing that vitamin D is important for building muscle, for developing healthy muscles and for muscle function. So, whether you’re an athlete looking for improved performance or you just want to be healthy and strong, here’s one more reason to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.

Kids & Building Muscle
As early as 5 years old, research has shown that 5 year old girls with higher levels of vitamin D have greater hand grip strength than girls who aren’t getting enough vitamin D, showing that getting enough vitamin D is important for building muscle. And it’s not just important for building muscle, its also important for developing healthy muscle. Girls with higher vitamin D levels are a significant 70% less likely to have muscle tissue disease. For some reason, the association between vitamin D and muscle strength was not seen in boys in this study (JCEM 2018;103(7):2630-9).

Vitamin D continues to improve muscle strength in your teenage years. In a test of muscle power, girls between 12 and 14 were found to superior jump velocity, jump height and power when they had higher levels of vitamin D, showing that, in teenagers, vitamin D is significantly associated with muscle power and force (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009 Feb;94(2):559-63).

Young Adults
When 103 NCAA college athletes took part in a test of the effect of vitamin D on muscle strength and aerobic power, it showed that vitamin D, again, was crucial for muscle strength and power. The athletes underwent several physical performance tests, including the Vertical Jump Test, Shuttle Run Test, Triple Hop for Distance Test and the 1 Repetition Maximum Squat Test. Athletes who had lower vitamin D levels had significantly worse performance in all of the tests (Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2016 Dec;26(6):558-564).

Older Adults
The benefits of vitamin D on muscle don’t stop when you’re young. Elderly people who are low in vitamin D also perform worse on tests of physical strength and grip strength. In men and women over 65, better vitamin D levels were associated with improved scores of lower extremity function and mobility as well as handgrip strength (J Gerontol 2007;62(4):440-6). A large study of men and women over 65 found that getting enough vitamin D is important for frailty and physical performance. People who didn’t have enough vitamin D were twice as likely to be frail and did worse in some measures of physical performance (Eur J Nutr 2019 Apr;58(3):1173-1181). However, a systematic review of older people and vitamin D supplements found only a nonsignificant improvement in hand grip strength and a small but significant improvement on a timed-up-and-go test (J Hum Nutr Diet 2017 Feb; 30(1): 3–15). A more recent study of women over 60 found that the women with vitamin D deficiency were significantly more likely to have low handgrip strength (Nutrients 2021,13, 736).

Very Old Adults
Vitamin D may still contribute a little more even when you’re nearing 100. People who are over 98 have lower grip strength when they have lower levels of vitamin D (J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr 2014;33(1):35-46).

So, from the very beginning of life to the very end, vitamin D seems to be valuable for the development and maintenance of healthy muscles.

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