Muscle damage can happen from any intense exercise and is caused by a variety of factors, such as strain of the muscle and local inflammation. For example, after a long steep hike, muscles may be really sore and not able to exert as much force as normal. After a few days, the muscles recover and regain their full strength.
In the study, Barker and his colleagues wanted to see what effect vitamin D levels had in this recovery process. And they found that higher vitamin D levels does aid in muscle recovery. Their research was published in the journal, Nutrients—Vitamin D and Human Health.
“We wanted to study the relationship between vitamin levels and recovery following intense exercise,” said TOSH researcher Tyler Barker, PhD, lead author of the study. “And we found that those who had higher vitamin D levels had a faster rate recovery from muscle damage.”
“This research sheds new light on the importance of vitamin D in our bodies,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, executive director of scientific and clinical affairs at USANA Health Science, and contributing author of the study. “I see the potential benefits of this study being far reaching. For example, this research has already been highlighted by a number of authorities including the Vitamin D Council. This study is especially appealing on a personal level. For those of us who consider ourselves ‘weekend warriors’, looks like we can play a little harder and maybe not suffer as much on Monday."
Fourteen physically-active adults participated in the study. Vitamin D levels and the amount of force a participant could exert were measured before and after intense exercise.
Each participant performed intense exercise with one leg while the other leg acted as a control. Then their strength was tested at day one, two, three and seven following the initial intense exercise by pushing against a special force plate. By assessing the amount of strength the leg has with the force plate, researchers could assess the initial muscle damage and then the recovery time.
Researchers found those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were able to regain their strength back quicker.
Based on their data, researchers also concluded that vitamin D may protect against muscular weakness caused by muscle damage. They say vitamin D helps regulate different things like calcium and protein synthesis within the muscle that ultimately help a muscle move.
Future studies may look at how much vitamin D is helpful in aiding muscle recovery after intense exercise.