Vitamin D and muscular strength
Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as we depend on sunlight to synthesise 90% of our requirement, the remainder coming from dietary sources, primarily fish. But in the absence of sunshine do we get enough vitamin D to maintain optimal muscle function?
The prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in UK adults has been estimated at 87% and this has been associated with suboptimal muscle function. Vitamin D is vital for musculoskeletal health and exerts its action on the tissue receptors of skeletal muscle to influence its function and performance. Following oral vitamin D supplementation, several recent studies have shown that vitamin D levels correlate with muscle strength, highlighting the need for individuals to attain and maintain a sufficient concentration that will prevent muscular decline.
Should you take a vitamin D supplement?
The UK recommended nutrient intake for dietary vitamin D intake is 400IU/day but most of us do not achieve this and when skin absorption is not possible, individuals may require supplementation. Vitamin D status varies widely so it is important to test your status via your GP, particularly during winter.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, aches and pains, bone pain, weakness and frequent infections. In the event of being vitamin D deficient this will need to be corrected, and following vitamin D repletion, a maintenance dose may be required.
One study conducted on healthy Irish adults calculated that in those who avoided sunshine, the total vitamin D intake (from all sources) required to maintain a sufficient level of vitamin D during winter was 1,120 IU/d. With a growing evidence base emphasising the significance of vitamin D in human physiology, supplementation is an attractive option to avoid a state of insufficiency. However, individuals should supplement only as directed by a Registered Nutritional Therapist or health professional.
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About Sue Appelboom
Sue Appelboom, Registered Nutritional Therapist (BSc, mBANT, CNHC) provides practical advice that will help you make informed choices about nutrition in order to promote your own wellbeing, whether interested in optimising your health, weight management or managing a particular health issue.