Vitamin D Levels Linked to Muscle Power in Girls.

March 30, 2009

Vitamin D Levels Linked to Muscle Power in Girls. 

 Competency # 17  Vitamin D                Reference: J Clin Endocrinol Metab 94: 559-563, 2009  

Goodness gracious!  Now, this sounds like steroids in athletes.  Well, actually, it is.  Here is a fascinating story that helps you to understand how vitamin D works.  Remember, Vit D is NOT a vitamin.  It is a hormone because it acts on genes.  About 10% of the human genome is affected by D.   Essentially, the way it works is to encourage cells to develop from their stem cell resting state into a mature state in which they can do their function. 

What the researchers reported from Manchester, England was the results of a study comparing the ability to run, jump and push in 99 girls ages 12-14.   How athletic were the girls?  How much innate “force” did they have?  What they found was a clear linear relationship between the ability to show force (push, pull, jump) correlated directly with their vitamin D level.   They integrated the product of speed and height in jumping to come up with a product they called force.  

There was a direct correlation with Vitamin D levels and the ability to generate force. This sounds simple but I believe the implications are pretty profound.  Our bodies are collections of thousands of kinds of cells.  Even quite little muscle cells have some stem cells sitting there waiting for an adequate level of D to inspire them to get stronger.  Do they function and act in the manner to which they were intended to act?  If you can’t get any vitamin D and your blood level gets too low, do you get weaker?  We do know that frail elderly fall more when their blood levels of D get low. 

 You can lower their rate of falls dramatically by increasing the amount of D that gets their blood to adequate levels.   Does winter make us weaker?  After five months of darkness, does our muscle mass get smaller?  If it did, we would put on weight.  Our muscles burn the majority of our calories because they continue to burn calories even in a resting state.  That’s why exercise is a key component of weight loss.  We want you to exercise to develop your muscles so that they can burn calories, even while you sleep.  Do you put on weight in winter?  I do. So, it is steroids! Your natural steroid.  

Sunshine makes you make D.  D makes your muscles develop.  You get stronger.  You burn more calories.  The cool thing is that D is your natural steroid hormone.   We know that D is not harmful to your muscles.  Do you think our sports teams have any advantage to going somewhere sunny for spring training?  Would they be just as ready for opening day if they were working out in Minneapolis?  This research says the answer is no! 

 WWW:  What will work for me?  Wow, another reason to take D.  (Just in case I hadn’t given you enough yet!).  Keep your muscles strong in their natural state of maturity.  Don’t let yourself get overweight during the winter.  And if you want your kid to do well in sports, make sure they are on D too!  How about 2,000 IU for everyone! (5,000 probably better.)

This column written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI (262-784-5300)