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Vitamin D and physical performance in people with heart failure

Posted on: March 9, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


A randomized controlled trial found that vitamin D3 did not improve physical performance in people with heart failure.

Heart failure is often associated with functional decline and weakness while vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle strength loss in patients with heart failure.

Dr Rebecca Boxer, MD, and colleagues randomized 64 heart failure patients to receive either 50,000 IU vitamin D3/week or placebo, all patients received dailycalcium for 6 months. The researchers analyzed peak oxygen uptake, 6-min walk distance, timed ‘get up and go’, and knee strength.

At baseline, the vitamin D group’s mean vitamin D status was 19.1 ng/ml and increased to 61.7 ng/ml, while the placebo group’s mean decreased from 17.8 ng/ml at baseline to 17.4 ng/ml.

The authors report that patients in the vitamin D group didn’t have significant improvement in any of the exercise capacity measures. Although, they do report that patients with higher baseline vitamin D status, regardless of group, had more improvement in oxygen uptake, although the finding wasn’t quite significant (p=0.06).

The authors point out that although there study didn’t find significant improvement in functional performance, “Vitamin D may still be a good candidate to help break the cycle of frailty and functional decline in patients with HF [heart failure], because benefit has been demonstrated in older adults in nondiseased base studies.”

They call for a trial looking at exercise combined with vitamin D supplementation to assess benefits from vitamin D for patients with heart failure.


Boxer RS, Kenny AM, Schmotzer BJ, Vest M, Fiutem JJ, Pina IL. A randomized controlled trial of high-dose vitamin D3 in patients with heart failure.

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