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Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec;29(6):407-14. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2008.07.002. Epub 2008 Aug 8.

Vitamin D and skeletal muscle tissue and function.

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Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Bone Metabolism Laboratory, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


This review aims to summarize current knowledge on the role of vitamin D in skeletal muscle tissue and function. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a myopathy of varying severity. Clinical studies have indicated that vitamin D status is positively associated with muscle strength and physical performance and inversely associated with risk of falling. Vitamin D supplementation has shown to improve tests of muscle function, reduce falls, and possibly impact on muscle fiber composition and morphology in vitamin D deficient older adults. Molecular mechanisms of vitamin D action on muscle tissue include genomic and non-genomic effects via a receptor present in muscle cells. Genomic effects are initiated by binding of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)(2)D] to its nuclear receptor, which results in changes in gene transcription of mRNA and subsequent protein synthesis. Non-genomic effects of vitamin D are rapid and mediated through a cell surface receptor. Knockout mouse models of the vitamin D receptor provide insight into understanding the direct effects of vitamin D on muscle tissue. Recently, VDR polymorphisms have been described to affect muscle function. Parathyroid hormone which is strongly linked with vitamin D status also may play a role in muscle function; however, distinguishing its role from that of vitamin D has yet to be fully clarified. Despite the enormous advances in recent decades, further research is needed to fully characterize the exact underlying mechanisms of vitamin D action on muscle tissue and to understand how these cellular changes translate into clinical improvements in physical performance.

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