Vitamin D Helps Women Maintain Muscle Mass After Menopause

By Paul Savage, MD, FAARM, ABAARM – Founder and Chief Medical Officer | Power2Practice

The benefits of vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women have been widely debated. However, recent research suggests that vitamin D3 can help women significantly increase muscle strength and reduce muscle mass loss—as late as 12 years after menopause.

Dr. LM Cangussu, from the Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University (Brazil), and colleagues conducted the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial over a nine-month period.

  • 160 Brazilian postmenopausal women were randomized into two groups: those who received vitamin D3 at 1000 IU/day orally (n = 80) or a placebo group (n = 80).
  • Women with amenorrhea for more than 12 months and age 50-65 years, with a history of falls over the previous 12 months were included.
  • Lean mass was estimated by total-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and muscle strength by handgrip strength and a chair-rising test.
  • The plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Statistical analysis was by intention to treat (ITT), using ANOVA, Student’s t test and Turkey’s test.

After the 9-month period, results showed that women receiving the supplements exhibited a significant increase (+25.3%) in muscle strength at the end of the study, whereas those assigned to a placebo actually lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass.

In addition, the group of women who did not receive vitamin D3 supplementation were nearly two times as likely to fall.

“We concluded that the supplementation of Vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle,” said Cangussu.

In other women, replacement with the hormone testosterone may be indicated. Testosterone is responsible for strength.  Emotional, physical, sexual and mental strength are all influenced by the level (or lack thereof) of testosterone. Women with low testosterone often have symptoms of hot flashes, low libido, vaginal dryness, low energy, brain fog, and less effective work outs.


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