Vitamin D and muscle strength throughout the life course: a review of epidemiological and intervention studies
McCarthy and Kiely, JHND Early View
The putative role of vitamin D in muscle function and strength throughout the life course is of interest because muscle strength is required for engagement in physical activity at all ages. As vitamin D deficiency is widely reported in the population, especially in countries at high latitude, the potential importance of vitamin D in muscle function throughout life, and the potential impacts on growth and development, participation in physical activity, and effects on skeletal and cardio-metabolic health, comprise an important topic for discussion. This review provides an overview of muscle function and summarises the role of the vitamin D receptor and the proposed molecular mechanisms of action of vitamin D in muscle cells. In addition, the review provides a comprehensive assessment of the clinical evidence surrounding the association between vitamin D and muscle strength. Among adults, particularly older adults, cross-sectional and cohort studies reported a positive association between vitamin D status and muscle strength. These associations have been largely confirmed by intervention studies. Limited research has been carried out in adolescents and children; two cross-sectional studies in adolescents have suggested an association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and muscle strength. However, the two intervention studies in adolescents have yielded conflicting results. Other than a single observational study, data in young children are very limited and further investigation in under 12-year-olds is warranted.