Did You Know…that supplementing with vitamin D may help build and maintain muscle strength as we age?
Vitamin D deficiency can strike at any age, but it’s particularly prevalent among older adults. As we age, our bodies have a harder time absorbing and metabolizing vitamin D, and the health consequences can be disastrous.
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in…
- An increased risk for falls and fractures
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Difficulties with walking
- Central nervous system malfunction and weakened cognitive function
Vitamin D is vital for proper bone health and may also help protect against heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Recent studies single out vitamin D as a potential nutrient for strengthening muscles and improving balance as we grow older.
Vitamin D3 for Muscle Boosting
Findings from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study out of Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil suggest that taking 1000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D a day may help reverse some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Researchers studied 160 women 50-65 years old for 9 months, testing for:
- Estimated muscle mass using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry
- Hand grip
- Ability to get out of a chair
Results showed that women who supplemented with vitamin D3 every day for 9 months improved muscle strength by 25.3%, while women taking a placebo lost an average of 6.8% muscle mass and were nearly twice as likely to suffer a fall.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario examined 13 studies conducted over a 30-year period to gain a better idea of how vitamin D influences muscle strength, balance, and gait in older adults. Their analysis revealed that when adults ages 63 to 99 took 800-1000 IUs of vitamin D each day they enjoyed improvements in strength and balance. Of the 13 studies, 9 were statistically significant, which indicates reliability in the findings.
The Low-Down on Vitamin D
Our bodies cannot make vitamin D, so we have to make sure we’re spending enough time in the sun. Ten to fifteen minutes of SPF-free sun exposure should ensure you are meeting your daily vitamin D requirements. The most recent research suggests that we need a minimum of 2000 IUs a day of vitamin D. It’s also important to eat vitamin D-rich foods such as fish and dairy, although these foods will only give you a boost in the range of about 200-400 IUs. In contrast, spending as little as 30 minutes in the sun without wearing sunblock can produce 10 to 20,000 IUs.
You’re in the danger zone if your vitamin D levels are less than 40 ng/ml. If you fall below that marker, you’ll want to boost your levels with a high potency vitamin D supplement. It’s also a good idea to supplement in the winter when the sun is shy, depending on where you live and how much time you spend indoors.
Two types of vitamin D supplements are available: the synthetic form D2 (ergocalciferol) and the non-synthetic and preferable form D3 (cholecalciferol). Research shows that vitamin D3 is 87% more effective at raising and maintaining vitamin D levels and can also be converted into active form at a 500% faster rate.