Is There A Strong Connection Between Vitamin D Intake And Improved Muscle Mass In Sarcopenia Patients?

Published On : 2017-02-16

Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining strong, healthy bones and good overall health. Vitamin D ensures that the muscles, lungs, heart and brain work to the fullest and they can easily fight off any infection. The body is capable of making its own Vitamin D from sunlight, but supplements are also available in the Vitamin D Ingredients Market. Some foodstuffs even have Vitamin D in small amounts. The main difference between Vitamin D and other vitamins is that the former is turned into a hormone by the body. This is known as “calcitriol” or “activated vitamin D”.

Sarcopenia is a steady loss of muscle strength and mass that occurs naturally as a result of ageing. This decline usually begins at the age of 50, with a rough decrease of 1%-2% muscle mass every year. People with sarcopenia are at a heightened risk of impaired recovery from long-term illnesses and require longer hospital or nursing home stays. While there are several factors that lead to sarcopenia, low Vitamin D and inadequate intake of high-quality protein are important risk factors that can be corrected. Research conducted seems to suggest that whey protein helps improve muscle protein synthesis (MPS) especially among senior citizens. Muscle protein synthesis is vital for gaining and maintaining muscle mass. Research also shows that leucine, one of the essential amino acids, might heighten MPS when taken together with a high-quality source of protein.

The role played by Vitamin D in strengthening muscles and bones cannot be overstated. Along with whey protein, Vitamin D has been proven to increase the speed of MPS. Vitamin D also decreases muscle inflammation and increases fast twitching muscle fibre size. A study showed that providing obese older people with a combination supplement of Vitamin D and whey protein reduced the risk of developing sarcopenia while losing weight intentionally. As the years passed, researchers have tried to provide nutritional interventions to treat sarcopenia, including combinations of high-quality protein and Vitamin D. Unfortunately, the results were fairly conflicting. This could possibly be due to the variability in the quality of protein or Vitamin D dosage provided along with the diet composition used in these interventions. Researchers speculate that baseline nutritional status could potentially impact the success of protein and Vitamin D interventions to treat sarcopenia.

Experts conducted a study with data from the PROVIDE study, a random double-blind trial that compared the effects of a leucine-enriched whey protein and Vitamin D drink to a placebo in 380 senior citizens suffering from sarcopenia. The study proved that individuals who were given the enriched drink over 13 weeks of the study duration gained an appreciably improved leg function and appendicular muscle mass as opposed to the controls. The study also found –

  • People with borderline 25(OH)D levels < 20 ng/ml had reduced muscle mass and strength when compared to those individuals with levels > 20 ng/ml

  • Participants who had an intake of > 1g/kg/day of protein had a lower average weight, muscle mass, fat mass and BMI as opposed to those with lower protein intake

  • Individuals with a baseline 25(OH)D status > 20ng/ml who had an intake >1 g/kg/day of whey protein showed a greater improvement in skeletal and appendicular muscle mass as a response to intervention, not dependent on the other factors

  • Neither protein intake at borderline nor 25(OH)D status drastically impacted lower extremity function outcome

The researchers were able to conclude that a combination of leucine, Vitamin D supplements and whey protein are absolutely vital to a person’s vitamin needs, irrespective of whether they wish to treat muscle loss or maintain the peak of athletic performance. The Vitamin D council is quite selective whenever it recommends any products, however. They do so only when they are able to perceive public health and wellness benefits directly. They are of the opinion that one mustn’t exceed 10,000 IU daily and keep checking Vitamin D levels every 3 months after changing supplement routines to ensure healthy Vitamin D levels are consistently maintained.