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Want strong muscles? Check your vitamin D levels

Category: Vitamin D Deficiency-Diagnosis and Treatment

People who hit the gym often but don't seem to have enough energy during their workout or the muscle strength they're looking for may want to get lab tests to check their vitamin D levels. According to recent research from Newcastle University, vitamin D is the key to getting muscles to work efficiently and for increasing energy levels. Scientists found that muscle function appears to improve when people take vitamin D supplements.

To come to their conclusions, researchers used MRI scans to measure the muscle response to exercise for 12 study participants, all of whom had a severe vitamin D deficiency at the start of the trial.

Supplements offered a solution
Lead study author Akash Sinha, M.D., explained that the MRI scans offered the researchers the chance to see what's really happening inside of the muscle as people are exercising.

"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," said Sinha.

Study participants experienced this improvement in muscle function after taking a vitamin D supplement for 10 to 12 weeks. According to the researchers, muscle fatigue is a common symptom of vitamin D deficiency, and they believed that this could be the result of reduced efficiency of the mitochondria, which they called the "power stations" of the cell. Throughout the course of the study, the scientists showed that there is indeed a link between vitamin D and mitochondria function, and that people who want more muscle energy should make sure they get enough of this important nutrient.

"A simple vitamin D tablet could help boost your energy levels - from within the cells," added Sinha.

Sinha also said that around 60 percent of the patients he sees are vitamin D deficient, and that these people may want to consider taking a supplement.

Muscle-building tips
Along with getting more vitamin D, there are other things people can do to help increase the function of their muscles. For example, Men's Health magazine recommends that before engaging in weight-lifting at the gym, people consume a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates. The news source spoke to Kevin Tipton, Ph.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Texas in Galveston, who said that exercise increases bloodflow to your working tissues and drinking a protein-rich shake could lead to muscles taking in more amino acids.

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