Vitamin D deficiency impairs muscles by lowering energy production


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Mar 18, 2013
USA / Europe
Perhaps this study below will put some of the arguments against vitamin D supplementation to rest. It demonstrated up to 40% reduction of energy production in the muscles of animals deficient in vitamin D, in spite of unchanged number/size/density of mitochondria inside the cells. In addition, it demonstrated decrease in lean mass in the deficient animals, which suggests energy production is crucial for maintaining muscle mass and energetic deficiency may be the primary reason of loss of muscle mass in aging/disease. As this study says, this link between vitamin D / energetic deficiency and muscle health has been confirmed in human epidemiological studies on people with sarcopenia / cachexia. The new study findings match well with the findings of older studies demonstrating a strong overlap of effects between vitamin D and active thyroid hormone (T3), the latter being the main controller of the rate of oxidative metabolism in the organism. Conversely, supplementing with vitamin D, so the deficiency can be resolved, may be a decent surrogate of T3 supplementation for people who cannot get access to thyroid hormone(s) and/or are concerned about using them. One thing to keep in mind is that since vitamin D is primarily stored in fat tissue, overweight people may need 2-3 times higher daily doses in order to bring blood levels back within the normal range. So, if a doctor recommends 2,000 IU - 3,000 IU daily to a deficient, overweight person then the effective dosage that needs to be taken is probably around 10,000 IU daily.

Diet-Induced Vitamin D Deficiency Results in Reduced Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Respiration in C57BL/6J Mice
Diet-induced vitamin D deficiency reduces skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration - PubMed
Vitamin D deficiency may impair muscle function

"...Vitamin D deficiency may impair muscle function due to a reduction in energy production in the muscles, according to a mouse study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. Vitamin D deficient mice were found to have impaired muscle mitochondrial function, which may have implications for muscle function, performance and recovery. 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, but further studies are needed to confirm this. 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 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. Specialised organs in cells, called mitochondria, convert nutrients in to energy to meet this demand. 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 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. Therefore, previous studies have been unable to determine how vitamin D may directly affect muscle performance."

"..."Our results show there is a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle. They suggest that vitamin D deficiency decreases mitochondrial function, as opposed to reducing the number of mitochondria in skeletal muscle." Dr Philp comments. "We are particularly interested to examine whether this reduction in mitochondrial function may be a cause of age related loss in skeletal muscle mass and function."

"...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.


Aug 31, 2015

Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Association with Thyroid Disease​


Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem, its role as an immune modulator has been recently emphasized. The evidence is increasingly pointing towards vitamin D significant role in reducing the incidence of autoimmune diseases. However, at this time the research on its role in autoimmune and thyroid disease is not conclusive.
We aimed to examine the relationship between hypothyroidism and vitamin D deficiency and to clarify the relation between serum calcium levels with hypothyroid disease.

Subjects and Methods​

Serum vitamin D (25-OH) levels were measured in 30 patients with hypothyroidism and 30 healthy subjects, utilizing the spectrophotometric method. Vitamin D deficiency was designated at levels lower than 20 ng/ml. Thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4) and calcium levels were evaluated in all participants.


Serum 25(OH) vit D was significantly lower in hypothyroid patients than in controls (t=−11.128, P =0.000). Its level was insignificantly decreased in females than male patients (t=− 1.32, P >0.05). Moreover, serum calcium levels recorded a significant decrease in hypothyroid patients when compared to controls (t= −5.69, P = 0.000).


Our results indicated that patients with hypothyroidism suffered from hypovitaminosis D with hypocalcaemia that is significantly associated with the degree and severity of the hypothyroidism. That encourages the advisability of vit D supplementation and recommends the screening for Vitamin D deficiency and serum calcium levels for all hypothyroid patients.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Association with Thyroid Disease


Mobilising vitamin D from adipose tissue: The potential impact of exercise​


Vitamin D is lipophilic and accumulates substantially in adipose tissue. Even without supplementation, the amount of vitamin D in the adipose of a typical adult is equivalent to several months of the daily reference nutrient intake (RNI). Paradoxically, despite the large amounts of vitamin D located in adipose tissue, individuals with obesity are often vitamin D deficient according to consensus measures of vitamin D status (serum 25‐hydroxyvitamin D concentrations). Thus, it appears that vitamin D can become ‘trapped’ in adipose tissue, potentially due to insufficient lipolytic stimulation and/or due to tissue dysfunction/adaptation resulting from adipose expansion. Emerging evidence suggests that exercise may mobilise vitamin D from adipose (even in the absence of weight loss). If exercise helps to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue, then this could have important ramifications for practitioners and policymakers regarding the management of low circulating levels of vitamin D, as well as chronically low levels of physical activity, obesity and associated health conditions. This perspective led us to design a study to examine the impact of exercise on vitamin D status, vitamin D turnover and adipose tissue vitamin D content (the VitaDEx project). The VitaDEx project will determine whether increasing physical activity (via exercise) represents a potentially useful strategy to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue.


Vitamin D can accumulate in large amounts in adipose tissue where it may become sequestered. Preliminary evidence indicates that exercise may be a potential strategy to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue. We will examine this concept in a new research study (the VitaDEx project). This research will help us to understand the impact of exercise on vitamin D status and whether increasing physical activity represents a potentially useful strategy to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue. If exercise helps to mobilise vitamin D from adipose, then this could have important ramifications for practitioners and policymakers regarding the management of (i) low vitamin D status, (ii) obesity and associated conditions and (iii) low levels of physical activity. Current public health strategies typically approach vitamin D deficiency by increasing intake and/or synthesis of vitamin D (e.g. dietary supplementation or UV treatment). Notably, overweight/obesity reduces the impact of dietary supplementation with vitamin D on 25(OH)D concentrations (Arunabh et al. 2003; Snijder et al. 2005; Blum et al. 2008a; Beydoun et al. 2010) and the systemic 25(OH)D response to UV irradiation is significantly impaired (Wortsman et al. 2000). Thus, complementing conventional intake/synthesis strategies with techniques to mobilise endogenous vitamin D has the capacity to mutually enhance the overall effectiveness of interventions to improve vitamin D status.

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