In a recent study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency may impair muscle function due to a reduction in energy production in the muscles.
This may suggest that preventing vitamin D deficiency in older adults could help maintain better muscle strength and function and reduce age-related muscle deterioration.
The study is published in the Journal of Endocrinology. One author is Dr. Andrew Philp.
Vitamin D is a hormone well known to be important for maintaining bone health and preventing rickets and osteoporosis.
In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be as prevalent as 40% in European populations and linked to increased risk for several conditions, including COVID-19, cancer and diabetes.
Although these studies report association rather than causation, the benefits of vitamin D supplementation are now a major subject of the health debate.
Multiple studies have also linked low vitamin D levels to poor muscle strength, particularly in older people. Skeletal muscle enables us to move voluntarily and perform everyday activities.
It is essential that they have enough energy to power these movements.
Previous studies indicate that impaired muscle strength in people with vitamin D deficiency may be linked to impaired muscle mitochondrial function.
Determining the role of vitamin D in the muscle performance of older people is also difficult, as they may suffer from a number of pre-existing health conditions that can also affect their vitamin D status.
In the study, the team used a mouse model to determine the effects of diet-induced vitamin D deficiency on skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in young, male mice.
After 3 months of diet-induced vitamin D deficiency, the team found skeletal muscle mitochondrial function was impaired by up to 37%.
These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may impair mitochondrial function and reduce the amount of energy produced in the muscles, which may lead to poor muscle function.
Therefore, preventing vitamin D deficiency in older people may help maintain muscle performance and reduce the risk of muscle-related diseases, such as sarcopenia.
However, further studies that investigate the direct effect of vitamin D deficiency on muscle function and strength are necessary to confirm this.
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