Vitamin D supplementation does not improve human skeletal muscle contractile properties in insufficient young males

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Jun;114(6):1309-20. doi: 10.1007/s00421-014-2865-2. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


Purpose: Vitamin D may be a regulator of skeletal muscle function, although human trials investigating this hypothesis are limited to predominantly elderly populations. We aimed to assess the effect of oral vitamin D3 in healthy young males upon skeletal muscle function.

Methods: Participants (n = 29) received an oral dose of 10,000 IU day(-1) vitamin D3 (VITD) or a visually identical placebo (PLB) for 3 months. Serum 25[OH]D and intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) were measured at baseline and at week 4, 8 and 12. Muscle function was assessed in n = 22 participants by isokinetic dynamometry and percutaneous isometric electromyostimulation at baseline and at week 6 and 12.

Results: Baseline mean total serum 25[OH]D was 40 ± 17 and 41 ± 20 nmol L(-1) for PLB and VITD, respectively. VITD showed a significant improvement in total 25[OH]D at week 4 (150 ± 31 nmol L(-1)) that remained elevated throughout the trial (P < 0.005). Contrastingly, PLB showed a significant decrease in 25[OH]D at week 12 (25 ± 15 nmol L(-1)) compared with baseline. Despite marked increases in total serum 25[OH]D in VITD and a decrease in PLB, there were no significant changes in any of the muscle function outcome measures at week 6 or 12 for either group (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: Elevating total serum 25[OH]D to concentrations > 120 nmol L(-1) has no effect on skeletal muscle function. We postulate that skeletal muscle function is only perturbed in conditions of severe deficiency (<12.5 nmol L(-1)).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / blood
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D