Vitamin D Fuels Muscle Power in Teen Girls

Vitamin D Fuels Muscle Power in Teen Girls

Although vitamin D is naturally produced in the body through exposure to direct sunlight, vitamin D deficiency is now common in the U.S. The result can be a host of health ills, including severe conditions such as bone thinning osteoporosis and bone deforming rickets. Although a lack of vitamin D has long been known to weaken both the muscular and the skeletal systems of the human body, little has been known about how vitamin D contributes to muscle power and force — until now. For the first time, scientists have found that vitamin D is important for muscle power, force, velocity and jump height.

A new study, just published in the February edition of The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) , looked at 99 adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years. Dr. Kate Ward, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in the U.K., and colleagues took blood samples to measure the blood serum levels of vitamin D in the youngsters. They found many had low levels, even though they had no obvious symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Then the researchers used a measurement technique called jumping mechanography to measure the power and force of muscle activity when the girls went through a series of jumping activities. The result showed the teens who were not deficient in vitamin D performed far better in these tests.

“Vitamin D affects the various ways muscles work and we’ve seen from this study that there may be no visible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Ward in a statement to the media. “Further studies are needed to address this problem and determine the necessary levels of vitamin D for a healthy muscle system.”

A review of vitamin D research by scientists at the Institute of Child Health and Human Development published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine concluded that while obvious vitamin D deficiency (the kind that produces clear symptom such as rickets) is rare among children in the US, a lack of the vitamin in youngsters is most likely widespread. The study noted 78% of breastfed infants in winter who did not receive vitamin D supplementation were the most severely deficient of all.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), sun exposure is the best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Specifically, the NIH says it takes at least 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen for sufficient vitamin D synthesis. With limited sun exposure, the NIH web site states individuals need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet. Other sources include salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks and some mushrooms.



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