Is vitamin D a determinant of muscle mass and strength?

J Bone Miner Res. 2011 Dec;26(12):2860-71. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.510.


There remains little consensus on the link between vitamin levels and muscle mass or strength. We therefore investigated the association of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)(2) D), and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels with skeletal muscle mass and strength. We studied 311 men (mean age, 56 years; range, 23-91 years) and 356 women (mean age, 57 years; range, 21-97 years) representing an age-stratified, random sample of community adults. Multivariate linear regression models were used to examine the association of skeletal muscle mass (by total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and strength (handgrip force and isometric knee extension moment) with each of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)(2) D, and PTH quartiles, adjusted for age, physical activity, fat mass, and season. We found no consistent association between 25(OH)D or PTH and any of our measurements of muscle mass or strength, in either men or women. However, in subjects younger than 65 years, there was a statistically significant association between low 1,25(OH)(2) D levels and low skeletal mass in both men and women and low isometric knee extension moment in women, after adjustment for potential confounders. Modestly low 25(OH)D or high PTH levels may not contribute significantly to sarcopenia or muscle weakness in community adults. The link between low 25(OH)D and increased fall risk reported by others may be due to factors that affect neuromuscular function rather than muscle strength. The association between low 1,25(OH)(2) D and low skeletal mass and low knee extension moment, particularly in younger people, needs further exploration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D