One of the essential nutrients for your body is vitamin D. It is well known to keep the bones strong and healthy and protects us from diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It is also essential for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system, endocrine glands, and immune system.
Vitamin D is biologically inactive until it activates by enzymatic reactions in the kidneys and liver. It allows the body to absorb phosphate and calcium needed for maintaining healthy bones. Using innovative technology, researchers at the University of Birmingham investigated the impact of active and inactive vitamin D on muscle strength.
The study found that increased levels of activated vitamin D in the bloodstream may be associated with improved muscle function and strength. Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith explains the importance of this innovative approach to testing for vitamin D.
"Previous studies have tested for the inactive forms of vitamin D in the bloodstream to measure vitamin D deficiency. Here, we were able to develop a new method of assessing multiple forms of vitamin D, alongside extensive testing of body composition, muscle function, and muscle gene expression."
The level of Vitamin D in 116 healthy individuals between the ages of 20 and 74, were studied. The research team also measured body fat and lean body mass (a measure of muscle mass). The tests showed a significant relationship between the active form of vitamin D and increased leg strength in terms of jump height, power, and velocity. The researchers also found that women with a lower and healthy makeup of fat were less likely to have high levels of inactive vitamin D.
Studies also show that individuals with a higher muscle mass and lean mass have a higher level of active vitamin D. Therefore suggesting that active vitamin D plays a crucial role in improving muscle strength.
"By looking at multiple forms in the same study, we can say that it is a more complex relationship than previously thought. It may be that body fat is linked to increased levels of inactive vitamin D, but lean mass is the key to elevated levels of active vitamin D. It is vital to understand the complete picture and the causal mechanisms at work so we can learn how to supplement vitamin D intake to enhance muscle strength." says Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith
Getting enough sunlight exposure is essential for the skin to produce vitamin D. For countries with limited sunlight, dietary sources such as red meat, oily fish, supplements, eggs are necessary. Getting vitamin D through supplements has become very helpful, especially for people who have an increased risk of weak bones. Eating a healthy diet with vitamin D-rich ingredients will not only make you healthier but improve your bone and muscle strength.
The research established the different forms of vitamin D relating to how they can improve muscle strength. But there is still so much ground to cover and more to learn about the vitamin D – muscle relationship.