Staying Healthy

Vitamin D deficiency linked to loss of muscle strength

Research we're watching

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
  • Reviewed by Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor

photo of various sources of vitamin D: a paper cutout of a sun and sunglasses; a glass of milk; a piece of Swiss cheese; an egg; a salmon steak; and a bottle of vitamin D supplement capsules

Having a low level of vitamin D greatly increases a person's risk of age-related loss of muscle strength (known as dynapenia), a major risk factor for falls, a new study suggests.

The study, published online Sept. 15, 2022, by the journal Calcified Tissue International and Musculoskeletal Research, analyzed data from more than 3,200 people ages 50 and older with no previous dynapenia. Researchers tracked them for four years as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, a long-term study that began in 2002. Participants' vitamin D levels were measured with blood tests at the start and categorized as sufficient (defined as more than 50 nanomoles per liter, or nmol/L), insufficient (30 to 49 nmol/L), or deficient (less than 30 nmol/L). After four years, grip strength was evaluated as a measure of participants' overall muscle strength.

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About the Author

photo of Maureen Salamon

Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Maureen Salamon is executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later covered health and medicine for a wide variety of websites, magazines, and hospitals. Her work has … See Full Bio
View all posts by Maureen Salamon

About the Reviewer

photo of Toni Golen, MD

Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor

Dr. Toni Golen is a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, practicing in Boston. Dr. Golen completed her residency training at George Washington University Medical Center in 1995, and is an associate professor at Harvard Medical … See Full Bio
View all posts by Toni Golen, MD

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