One of the hard facts of aging is that with every decade of life starting around age 30, muscle mass begins to decrease. If not remedied with good nutrition and regular exercise, this loss of both muscle mass and muscle function may eventually lead to frailty. However, a new study has revealed that vitamin D3 can assist aging women in fighting to retain muscle.
Findings from this study, performed by Brazilian researchers and presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Northern American Menopause Society, showed that vitamin D supplementation in postmenopausal women can significantly increase muscle strength while reducing the loss of muscle mass.
Despite the body’s ability to make vitamin D using sunlight, postmenopausal women around the world are commonly deficient in the nutrient, leading to muscle weakness and a greater risk of falling.
With this in mind, researchers decided to put vitamin D to the test: They designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that would evaluate the success of administering 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for nine months to women aged 50 to 65. The study would determine whether an added dosage of vitamin D would help strengthen muscle and aid in preventing these women from falling.
The study’s results showed that vitamin D3 supplementation was associated with a significant increase of about 25 percent in muscle strength, as determined by handgrip strength and through a chair-raising test. In comparison, those in the placebo group actually lost an average of almost 7 percent of muscle mass and were nearly twice as likely to fall.
The researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation alone helped to provide significant protection against the risk for sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle loss.
These results add to a growing body of evidence from epidemiological studies and clinical trials showing that vitamin D plays a very important role in muscle health and that the current Recommended Dietary Intakes, especially for the elderly, are largely inadequate for long-term health. For this reason, researchers and physicians alike are increasingly suggesting vitamin D supplementation to help support muscle health and maintenance to combat the frailty that often accompanies old age.
The North American Menopause Society. “Vitamin D3 Supplementation Helps Women Build Muscle Even After Menopause” (press release). 30 September 2015. Available at: http://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/2015/vitamin-d-supplementation.pdf