By Larissa Long
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Spinach may still be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, but perhaps even Popeye would want to start touting vitamin D as the next great muscle-building powerhouse.
For the study published in the journal Nutrition Research, a team of researchers recently performed a systemic review to find out if and how vitamin D levels in the body are related to muscle strength and/or incidence of injury.
The results of their analysis showed that higher D levels did have a small to moderate effect on muscle strength and reduced incidence of injury.
Other studies have shown similar results. In one, researchers aimed to find out if vitamin D improves healing after muscle injury, which occurs in serious situations like car accidents, but also with many sports and exercises like weight lifting. Also read ‘Live In The Now’ article: Confirmed: Low Vitamin D Levels Increase Chronic Disease Risk
Using rats with induced injury of the soleus muscle, the researchers gave the animals either a single high dose of vitamin D (332,000 IU) or a control substance. After four days, they found that the rats on the vitamin D had a significant increase in cell growth and decrease in cell apoptosis (cell death) compared to the control rats. There was also evidence of increased cellular matrix proteins—meaning faster cellular turnover, which resulted in a quicker recovery by day 42 of the experiment.
They concluded that, “vitamin D treatment may represent a promising therapy to optimize recovery after injury.“
What athlete—or any regular Joe, for that matter—wouldn’t want a cheap, easy, efficient way to aid in muscle repair and recovery? Fortunately, this study shows that vitamin D just may be the ticket. So for this reason – and countless others – you should aim to keep your D levels in a healthy range (50-100 ng/mol).
As we all know, the health benefits of vitamin D are seemingly endless: It boosts immune health. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. It even helps in the maintenance of healthy weight. And now, vitamin D may not only help improve muscle strength, but also aid in muscle repair and injury recovery.
So how can you meet your body’s vitamin D needs?
Getting a daily dose of sun (20 minutes without sunscreen) is the best way to get your vitamin D. But supplementation can help ensure that you reach therapeutic levels. Research indicates that you can safely take as much as 10,000 IU per day. But before doing so, it’s not a bad idea to have an idea of your current vitamin D level as a starting point. Your doctor can determine this by administering a simple blood test.
Redzic M, et al. Relationship between 25-hydoxyvitamin D, muscle strength, and incidence of injury in healthy adults: a systematic review. Nutr Res. 2013 Apr;33(4):215-58.
Stratos I, et al. Vitamin D increases cellular turnover and functionally restores the skeletal muscle after crush injury in rats. Am J Pathol. 2013 Mar;182(3):895-904.
Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamind/DSECTION=dosing
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About the author:
Larissa Long has worked in the health care communications field for more than 13 years. She co-authored a self-care book titled Taking Care, has written countless tip sheets and e-letters on health topics, and contributed several articles toNatural Solutions magazine. She also served as managing editor of three alternative health and lifestyle newsletters — Dr. Susan Lark’s Women’s Wellness Today, Dr. David Williams’ Alternatives, and Janet Luhrs’ Simple Living.
For tips, tools and strategies to address your most pressing health concerns and make a positive difference in your life, visit Peak Health Advocate.
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