A little sunshine is good for your muscles.
Everyone knows that vitamin D is good for you. It’s good for your bone and teeth health, it’s vital for your metabolism and it’s necessary for regulating calcium in the body.
However, recent research has found that it might also play a big role in optimising muscle mass and strength.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham were able to identify both ‘active’ vs and ‘inactive’ vitamin D in the body and found that people with more lean mass (i.e. muscle) had more active vitamin D in their bloodstreams.
The study, published earlier this year in the journal PLOS ONE, took 116 healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 and 74 and measured their vitamin D levels along with each participant’s body fat and lean body mass.
The researchers found that those who had a healthy body composition, with lower levels of body fat, were less likely to have high levels of inactive vitamin D, a key marker of vitamin D deficiency.
Meanwhile, the active form of vitamin D was associated with lean body mass — muscle.
“It may be that body fat is linked to increased levels of inactive vitamin D, but lean mass is the key for elevated levels of active vitamin D,” said lead author Dr. Zaki Hassan-Smith. “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.”
With spring already upon us and summer fast approaching, it’s a good time to remember to get enough sunshine (while still being sun-smart) and supplement with vitamin D if your levels are low. That way, when you’re back in the gym, you’ve set yourself up for an optimal workout.
(It should be noted that in this study, women saw more benefits of active vitamin D than men did. So, ladies, make sure you get some sun to help you smash your workouts.)
Hassan-Smith, Z.K. (2017.) ‘25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 exert distinct effects on human skeletal muscle function and gene expression.’
PLOS ONE, 2017 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170665