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Vitamin D Improves Physical and Athletic Performance by
Improving Muscle Function  

Vitamin D May Improve Physical and Athletic PerformanceThousands of medical and research studies show that vitamin D3 supplementation improves bone density and muscle strength in older adults. Now we are finding vitamin D3 improves muscle strength for athletes and adolescents participating in sports.  

German researchers discovered in the 1950’s that vitamin D3 producing ultraviolet light improved athletic performance. Consistent medical literature indicates physical and athletic performance is seasonal; it peaks when vitamin D3 levels peak (summer and autumn) and declines as vitamin D3 declines (winter and spring).

Peak athletic performance appears to occur when vitamin D3 blood levels approach those obtained by natural, full-body, summer sun exposure, which is at least 50 ng/ml.  

Vitamin D3 also increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. Most randomized controlled medical studies show that vitamin D3 improves physical performance. A blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 is necessary to determine the need and to adjust the dose of sunshine exposure and supplemental oral vitamin D3. [1]  

Sorry, guys, researchers have studied the gals more often…

Vitamin D3 supplementation improved jump velocity, jump height, muscle power and muscle force in adolescent girls. [2]

Another study showed adolescent girls with adequate vitamin D3 status had significantly higher muscle strength compared with those with poor vitamin D3 status. [3]

This doesn’t mean vitamin D3 will not help you guys. Your group has yet to be studied.  

Vitamin D3 may improve energy inside the muscle cell by assisting by improving calcium and magnesium levels inside the muscle. [4] A severe vitamin D3 deficiency may be associated with muscle pain and weakness. [5] [6] Vitamin D3 status can affect an athlete's overall health and ability to train by affecting bone health, immunity, and exercise-related immunity and inflammation. [7] One study found that low levels of vitamin D3 are associated with weak muscle strength. [8] Patients with vitamin D3 insufficiency often exhibit muscle weakness and/or atrophy which can be cured by vitamin D3 and calcium supplementation. [9] 

Dark skinned races typically have lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels compared to light skinned groups. Dark skinned individuals usually require longer periods of sun exposure and higher doses of Vitamin D3. [10]  

According to researchers current vitamin D3 recommendations are insufficient for all races. [11] Ninety-five percent of my clients in Oklahoma have a 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 below the optimal 50 ng/ml blood level. Fifty percent of my clients are below the minimum blood level of 32 ng/ml. I have found that a vitamin D3 deficiency is the norm rather than the exception in Oklahoma .  


Small amounts of vitamin D3 are found in egg yolks and butter. However, the majority of vitamin D3 in the body is created during a chemical reaction that starts with sunlight exposure to the skin. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is the dietary supplement and animal form of this vitamin. Cholecalciferol is absorbed best with food. Vitamin D2 in fortified foods and dairy products are not as potent as vitamin D3.  

 Vitamin D may improve muscle function
only if you are low in vitamin D3.

 Please contact your doctor or my office to obtain a
25-hydroxyvitamin D3 blood test. 

About the Author:
Keith D. Bishop, Clinical Nutritionist, B.Sc. Pharmacy helps clients improve their health using natural products, tests and self care. Call 405.936.3333 to schedule your Natural Care appointment.

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Return from Vitamin D Muscles to 2009 Natural Care News




[1] Athletic Performance and Vitamin D. , Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Sorenson MB, Taft TN, Anderson JJ., Med Sci Sports Exerc . 2009 Apr 3. 

[2] Vitamin D status and muscle function in post-menarchal adolescent girls. Ward KA, Das G, Berry JL, Roberts SA, Rawer R, Adams JE, Mughal Z. J Clin Endocrinol Metab . 2009 Feb;94(2):559-63. 

[3] Low vitamin D status has an adverse influence on bone mass, bone turnover, and muscle strength in Chinese adolescent girls. 

Foo LH, Zhang Q, Zhu K, Ma G, Hu X, Greenfield H, Fraser DR. J Nutr. 2009 May;139(5):1002-7. Epub 2009 Mar 25. 

[4] . Vitamin supplementation and athletic performance. Williams MH. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl . 1989;30:163-91. 

[5] [Myalgia and proximal muscle weakness in a young patient.] Mühlebach S, Bischoff-Ferrari HA. Praxis (Bern1994) . 2009 Apr 15;98(8):447-50 

[6] Vitamin D and its implications for musculoskeletal health in women: an update. Pérez-López FR. 

Maturitas . 2007 Oct 20;58(2):117-37.  

[7] Should we be concerned about the vitamin D status of athletes? Willis KS, Peterson NJ , Larson-Meyer DE . Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab . 2008 Apr;18(2):204-24.  

[8] Vitamin D and muscle strength in patients with previous fractures. Inderjeeth CA, Glenn on D, Petta A, Soderstrom J, Boyatzis I, Tapper J. N Z Med J . 2007 Sep 21;120(1262):U2730.  

[9] [Effect of calcium and vitamin D on skeletal muscle] Endo I, Inoue D. Clin Calcium . 2003 Jul;13(7):905-7 

[10] . African Americans, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and osteoporosis: a paradox. Aloia JF. Am J Clin Nutr . 2008 Aug;88(2):545S-550S. 

[11] Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004. Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA Jr. 

Arch Intern Med . 2009 Mar 23;169(6):626-32. 


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 Keith D. Bishop, Clinical Nutritionist

Keith D. Bishop
Clinical Nutritionist
B.Sc. Pharmacy


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