If you’re feeling too much like Popeye before the spinach can, you may want to get more sun exposure – as vitamin D deficiency can weaken muscles, a study warned.
The so-called “sunshine vitamin” – also found in foods like oily fish, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms – has long been known to play a role in bone strength.
However, in experiments on mice, Australian researchers found that not getting enough vitamin D reduced the function of the mitochondria that feed the muscles.
This, the team said, likely reduced muscle function, performance, and recovery.
In addition, the results suggest that preventing vitamin D deficiency in the elderly may help prevent age-related muscle degeneration.
Recent studies have suggested that around four in ten people in European populations may be suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
It has also been suggested to be linked to an increased risk of various conditions – including cancer, COVID-19, and diabetes.
If you’re feeling too much like Popeye before the spinach can, you might want to get more sun exposure – because vitamin D deficiency can weaken muscles, a study warned (stock image)
“Our results show that there is a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle,” said author and metabolism expert Andrew Philp of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Darlinghurst, Australia.
“They suggest that vitamin D deficiency decreases mitochondrial function, as opposed to reducing the number of mitochondria in skeletal muscle.
“We are particularly interested in investigating whether this reduction in mitochondrial function may be a cause of age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function.
In their study, Dr. Philp and his colleagues explored the effect of diet-induced vitamin D deficiency on skeletal muscle mitochondria function in young male mice.
For a period of three months, the team fed the mice either a diet with normal amounts of vitamin D – leading to levels of 30 nanomoles per liter – or a diet without vitamin D to induce deficiency, with levels of only 3 nanomoles per liter. .
In humans, the researchers explain, a healthy level of vitamin D is 40 to 50 nanomoles per liter, and acute deficiency is defined as anything below 12 nanomoles per liter.
While the induced deficiency in mice was more extreme, it remained within the clinically recognized range, the team added.
Blood and tissue samples were taken from the mice on a monthly basis to determine both vitamin D and calcium concentrations as well as mitochondrial numbers and function levels.
After the three months were over, the team found that the function of mitochondria in skeletal muscle was impaired by up to 37% – and this was not due to either a reduction in the number of mitochondria or a reduction in muscular mass.
The results suggest that insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to a reduction in the amount of energy that muscles can produce – which, in turn, can lead to poor muscle function.
In view of this, the researchers said, preventing vitamin D deficiency in the elderly can help maintain muscle performance and reduce the risk of related diseases such as sarcopenia, the gradual loss of skeletal muscle mass. and force.
The so-called ‘sunshine vitamin’ – also found in foods like oily fish, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms – has long been known to play a role in bone strength (stock image)
With their initial study completed, the researchers are now looking to establish exactly how vitamin D deficiency influenced skeletal muscle control and mitochondrial function in mice.
Further studies will also be needed, they added, to investigate the direct effect of vitamin D deficiency on muscle function and strength in humans.
The full results of the study were published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
HOW VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY CAN AFFECT THE HUMAN BODY
Vitamin D deficiency – when the level of vitamin D in your body is too low – can make your bones thin, brittle, or deformed.
Vitamin D also appears to play a role in insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and immune function – and this is linked to heart disease and cancer – but it’s still under investigation.
Low levels of the vitamin have also long been linked to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis.
Although the amount of vitamin D that adults get from their diet is often less than recommended, sun exposure can make up the difference.
For most adults, vitamin D deficiency is not a problem.
However, some groups – especially people who are obese, have dark skin, and are over 65 – may have lower levels of vitamin D due to their diet, low exposure to the sun, or other factors.
Source: Mayo Clinic