Hormones (Athens). 2016 Oct;15(4):471-488. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.1705.
Koundourakis NE1, Avgoustinaki PD1, Malliaraki N1, Margioris AN1.
Department of Clinical Chemistry, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.
Muscles are major targets of vitamin D. Exposure of skeletal muscles to vitamin D induces the expression of multiple myogenic transcription factors enhancing muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. At the same time vitamin D suppresses the expression of myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle mass. Moreover, vitamin D increases the number of type II or fast twitch muscle cells and in particular that of type IIA cells, while its deficiency causes type IIA cell atrophy. Furthermore, vitamin D supplementation in young males with low vitamin D levels increases the percentage of type IIA fibers in muscles, causing an increase in muscular high power output. Vitamin D levels are strongly associated with exercise performance in athletes and physically active individuals. In the elderly and in adults below the age of 65, several studies have established a close association between vitamin D levels and neuromuscular coordination. The aim of this review is to appraise our current understanding of the significance of vitamin D on muscular performance in both older and frail individuals as well as in younger adults, athletes or non-athletes with regard to both ordinary everyday musculoskeletal tasks and peak athletic performance.