D-lightful! Sunshine vitamin may help reduce muscle fatigue among deficient


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SunshineSpring is so close we can almost smell the tulips sprouting from the moist earth. It’s the perfect time to go outside, get active and power up your bones with some much needed vitamin D — that hormone you always hear about that is produced in the skin using energy from sun — especially if you’re vitamin D deficient. New research may explain why you experience muscle fatigue — a common symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

Researchers from Newcastle University found that muscle efficiency among people with low levels of vitamin D improves when a vitamin D supplement is taken. These findings can open the doors to improving the exercise capacity of athletes and even alleviating frailty in the elderly.

“This is the first time a link has been shown between vitamin D status and muscle aerobic function,” said study leader Akash Sinha in a release. “To do so, we used a noninvasive scan to get a unique … perspective on muscle mitochondrial metabolism during exercise — a window into what is really going on in the muscle as it works.”

According to the Society for Endocrinology, this muscle fatigue could be due to a problem in the mitochondria, which is the “power station” within each cell of the body. The research team found that phosphocreatine recovery time — phosphocreatine is an organic compound found in muscle tissue that is capable of storing and providing energy for muscular contraction — improved after the patients took a fixed dose of oral vitamin D for 10 to 12 weeks. All patients reported an improvement in symptoms of fatigue following the supplementation. In a parallel study, the release said, low vitamin D levels were associated with reduced mitochondrial function.

What does all this jargon mean to you? If you suspect you are vitamin D deficient, talk to your doctor. He or she will likely recommend getting the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. If results show you have a low level of vitamin D, your doctor will tell you how much supplementation you need. Remember, sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D, so get out as often as you can!