Vitamin D Improved Muscle Strength in Postmenopausal Women

Postmenopausal women experienced increased muscle strength, less muscle mass loss with vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D supplementation in postmenopausal women significantly increased muscle strength and reduced body muscle mass loss, according to results of a new study.

“Vitamin D supplementation, in addition to helping prevent sarcopenia, also significantly decreases the risk of falls and its recurrence, and can be used as a powerful weapon against fractures,” study investigator Luciana M. Cangussu, PhD, told Endocrinology Advisor.

The results of the study were presented here at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2015 Annual Meeting.

Dr Cangussu, who is a physiotherapist at the Botucatu Medical School, São Paulo State University in Brazil, said that previous research into sarcopenia indicated that the vitamin D receptor gene was present in large quantities in muscle cells and correlated with gain and loss of muscle mass and strength.

“With this, we wondered if vitamin D supplementation in our postmenopausal patients would help this muscle condition and aspects such as falls and fractures,” Dr Cangussu said.

For the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, Dr Cangussu and colleagues used dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), handgrip strength, and a chair-rising test to determine muscle mass.

At 9 months, muscle strength was significantly increased by 25.3% in women who received vitamin D supplements. However, women who received placebo experienced a 6.8% reduction in muscle mass.

In addition, women who did not receive vitamin D supplements were nearly twice as likely to fall.

“These findings were in line with our hypotheses, but they performed far beyond our expectations,” Dr Cangussu said.

Dr Cangussu noted that the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a daily vitamin D dose of 800 IU for postmenopausal woman, but that the prescribed dosage depends on the clinical condition of the patient.

“It is worth noting that … the patient needs to be vitamin D deficient to enjoy all of these benefits, so caution is needed when prescribing,” Dr Cangussu said.


  1. Cangussu LM, et al. Presented at: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2015 Annual Meeting; Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2015; Las Vegas.