You are here: Newcastle University Staff Homepage

photograph Vitamin D proven to boost energy from within the cells

Vitamin D is vital for making our muscles work efficiently and boosting energy levels, new research from Newcastle University has shown.

A study led by Dr Akash Sinha has shown that muscle function improves with Vitamin D supplements which are thought to enhance the activity of the mitochondria, the batteries of the cell.

A hormone normally produced in the skin using energy from sunlight, Vitamin D can also be found in a few foods – including fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks and fortified cereals but it can also be effectively boosted with Vitamin D supplements.

It is thought around 60% of people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, with children under five, people with dark skin and the elderly being particularly vulnerable. While it has a well-established association with helping in bone formation and a deficiency can lead to rickets, its role in other health issues is just emerging.

The researchers used non-invasive magnetic resonance scans to measure the response to exercise in 12 patients with severe deficiency before and after treatment with vitamin D.

Lead author Dr Akash Sinha who also works within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The scans provided a unique window into what is really going on in the muscle as it works.

“Examining this small group of patients with vitamin D deficiency who experienced symptoms of muscle fatigue, we found that those with very low vitamin D levels improved their muscle efficiency significantly when their vitamin D levels were improved.”

Alongside poor bone health, muscle fatigue is a common symptom in vitamin D deficient patients. This fatigue could be due to reduced efficiency of the mitochondria: the ‘power stations’ within each cell of the body.

Dr Sinha added: “We have proved for the first time a link between vitamin D and mitochondria function.

“Of the patients I see, around 60% are vitamin D deficient and most people living north of Manchester will struggle to process enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, particularly during winter and spring. So a simple vitamin D tablet could help boost your energy levels – from within the cells.”

Please see the full press release for further information.

 

published on: 8th April 2013

 

View more NU Connections articles

If you would like to submit a staff announcement or provide feedback about this website please visit our Contact Us section.