Muscle fatigue is a common sign of vitamin D deficiency, research finds.
Vitamin D is vital for enabling the muscles to work efficiently.
Low levels of this vitamin are linked to poor energy and tiredness.
Taking vitamin D supplements helped people in the study to feel much less tired.
Vitamin D is also found in oily fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals and some margarine spreads.
The study examined 12 people with a severe vitamin D deficiency, before and after treatment.
Participants’ muscles were scanned to check their response to exercise.
The results showed that those taking vitamin D supplements for 10-12 weeks felt much less tired.
Dr Akash Sinha, the study’s first author, explained the results:
“The scans provided a unique window into what is really going on in the muscle as it works.
Examining this small group of patients with vitamin D deficiency who experienced symptoms of muscle fatigue, we found that those with very low vitamin D levels improved their muscle efficiency significantly when their vitamin D levels were improved.”
The fatigue they were feeling is likely due to problems in the body’s mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the ‘power stations’ within each cell in our body.
Without vitamin D the mitochondria cannot work efficiently.
After supplementation, participants’ mitochondria recovered more quickly from exertion.
Dr Sinha said:
“We have proved for the first time a link between vitamin D and mitochondria function.
Of the patients I see, around 60% are vitamin D deficient and most people living north of Manchester will struggle to process enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, particularly during winter and spring.
So a simple vitamin D tablet could help boost your energy levels – from within the cells.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Endocrinology (Sinha et al., 2013).