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Higher vitamin D levels linked to lower muscle fatigue, according to new study

Posted on: June 6, 2016   by  Amber Tovey


A recent study published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging found that higher vitamin D status was positively correlated with the improvement in muscle relief and performance of physically active older individuals.

Past research has reported that vitamin D and calcium supplementation result in significant enhancements in the neuromuscular and skeletal muscle functions in the elderly population. Furthermore, most evidence supports the thesis that vitamin D status is linked to muscle power and force. These findings are explained by the ability of vitamin D to increase type II muscle fiber sizes, improving reaction, balance and performance.

Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining one’s health and preventing disease through all stages of life. However, as one gets older, it becomes more difficult to exercise without experiencing injuries or soreness. Physical activity-induced muscle injury, especially muscle soreness, is routinely assessed by increased levels of specific muscle proteins and enzymes, including creatine kinase (CK), hydroxyproline, troponin I and lactic acid dehydrogenase. Using these fatigue biomarkers, researchers recently conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D status and muscle fatigue among healthy older individuals.

A total of 85 healthy Saudi individuals between the ages of 64 and 96 years were enrolled into the study. The researchers measured vitamin D status, total antioxidant capacity (TAC) activity, muscle fatigue biomarkers and pain. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease through increasing TAC activity. Here is what the researchers found:

  • Vitamin D status was positively associated with calcium, TAC and physical activity scores (p < 0.05).
  • Vitamin D status was negatively correlated with body mass index, serum triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, pain and muscle fatigue biomarkers (p < 0.05).
  • Vitamin D status, physical activity, calcium levels, TAC and demographic parameters explained approximately 61.4%-85.8% of reduction in pain scores and muscle fatigue biomarkers.

The researchers stated,

“These results demonstrate that 25(OH)D concentrations and calcium might prevent muscle fatigue by regulation of the biosynthesis of CK, LDH, troponin I, and hydroxyproline via a proposed anti-free radical mechanism reported by higher TAC activity.”

The study has a few important limitations to note. First, the study design was cross-sectional, meaning that the study only proves association. Additionally, the study consisted of a relatively small sample size.

Randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on muscle fatigue and its biomarkers.


Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. Higher vitamin D levels linked to lower muscle fatigue, according to new study. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, 2016.


Al-Eisa E. Alghadir A. & Gabr S. Correlation between vitamin D levels and muscle fatigue risk factors based on physical activity in healthy older adults. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 2016.

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