Vitamin D, Skeletal Muscle Function and Athletic Performance in Athletes-A Narrative Review

Nutrients. 2019 Aug 4;11(8):1800. doi: 10.3390/nu11081800.


The active form of vitamin D (calcitriol) exerts its biological effects by binding to nuclear vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which are found in most human extraskeletal cells, including skeletal muscles. Vitamin D deficiency may cause deficits in strength, and lead to fatty degeneration of type II muscle fibers, which has been found to negatively correlate with physical performance. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve vitamin D status and can positively affect skeletal muscles. The purpose of this study is to summarize the current evidence of the relationship between vitamin D, skeletal muscle function and physical performance in athletes. Additionally, we will discuss the effect of vitamin D supplementation on athletic performance in players. Further studies are necessary to fully characterize the underlying mechanisms of calcitriol action in the human skeletal muscle tissue, and to understand how these actions impact the athletic performance in athletes.

Keywords: 25(OH)D; athlete; calcidiol; calcitriol; muscle performance; muscle strength; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Calcitriol / administration & dosage*
  • Calcitriol / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / agonists
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • VDR protein, human
  • Calcitriol