A randomized controlled trial of the effects of vitamin D on muscle strength and mobility in older women with vitamin D insufficiency

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Nov;58(11):2063-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03142.x.


Objectives: To evaluate the effects of vitamin D treatment on muscle strength and mobility in older women with vitamin D insufficiency.

Design: One-year population-based, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: Perth, Australia (latitude 32°S).

Participants: Three hundred two community-dwelling ambulant elderly women aged 70 to 90 with a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration less than 24 ng/mL.

Intervention: Vitamin D(2) 1,000 IU/d or identical placebo; calcium citrate (1 g calcium/d) in both groups.

Measurements: Lower limb muscle strength and mobility as assessed using the Timed Up and Go Test (TUAG).

Results: At baseline, mean ± standard deviation serum 25(OH)D was 17.7 ± 4.2 ng/mL; this increased to 24.0 ± 5.6 ng/mL in the vitamin D group after 1 year but remained the same in the placebo group. For hip extensor and adductor strength and TUAG, but not for other muscle groups, a significant interaction between treatment group and baseline values was noted. In those with baseline values in the lowest tertile, vitamin D improved muscle strength and TUAG more than calcium alone (mean (standard error): hip extensors 22.6% (9.5%); hip adductors 13.5% (6.7%), TUAG 17.5% (7.6%), P < .05). Baseline 25(OH)D levels did not influence patient response to supplementation.

Conclusion: Vitamin D therapy was observed to increase muscle function in those who were the weakest and slowest at baseline. Vitamin D should be given to people with insufficiency or deficiency to improve muscle strength and mobility.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology*
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D