Vitamin D Reduces Muscle Fatigue

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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In a groundbreaking study the role of vitamin D in human health has been significantly expanded.  Researchers demonstrated for the first time that vitamin D enables the mitochondria in your muscles to recharge faster, giving your muscles more energy and less likelihood of fatigue.  This is a significant discovery with widespread health implications.

As your muscles use energy they must recharge themselves, otherwise you run out of energy and have tired muscles.  Some people tire too easily or are fatigued too often, which means that their baseline recharging ability is reduced.  The power grid of your muscles is a network of cellular engines called mitochondria, which are concentrated in high numbers in your muscles.  Many nutrients, such as B vitamins, Q10, and magnesium are known to help energize the mitochondrial system.  Many antioxidants are known to protect it so it performs better.

This new human study is unique because it is the first to show a link between vitamin D status and the ability of your mitochondrial power grid to regenerate.  Participants in the study, who were lacking in vitamin D, all experienced improvement in fatigue and better muscle function. 

Your ability to make energy is the backbone of your health.  You need energy for everything.  The fact that vitamin D plays a role in mitochondrial function is a new and exciting discovery.  It helps explain why people who are lacking vitamin D are more prone to weight gain.  Low vitamin D is associated with many conditions of poor health and a higher risk for disease. 

While this initial study was done in individuals who were lacking vitamin D and had fatigue, it will be interesting to learn the optimal blood levels and dose of vitamin D to recharge cell engines in healthy people.  It is likely to be higher than the low end of the current lab reference range, which we already know is not high enough for optimal disease prevention.  Minimally, those experiencing tiredness as the winter drags on should try bumping up their vitamin D to see if it helps their energy.  And any person can see if a bit higher intake of vitamin D helps improve his or her response to exercise, both aerobics and strength activities.

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