By: Crystal Shelton
Vitamin D3 is one of the most important vitamins for human health. Research has shown that vitamin D3 has a beneficial effect on muscle strength, though the full extent of how it does so is still unknown. In addition, information has shown that dietary habits have also been shown to affect muscle health. Specifically, high-fat diets tend to cause more muscle and muscle strength loss, while healthier diets appear to support better muscle retention. So, how do the two components connect?
A recent study in Nutrients (February 2018) looked at how vitamin D supplementation or restriction along with dietary habits could affect muscle fibers in sedentary rats. The animals were separated into 7 different dietary groups:
- Regular diet intake
- Regular diet intake with vitamin D supplementation
- Regular diet intake with vitamin D restriction
- High-fat butter-based diet with vitamin D supplementation
- High-fat butter diet with vitamin D restriction
- High-fat extra virgin olive oil diet with vitamin D supplementation
- High-fat extra virgin olive oil diet with vitamin D restriction.
After 10 weeks of dietary intervention, the rats’ muscle fibers were studied for tone and thickness.
Rats on almost all diets – this excludes the high-fat virgin olive oil diet with vitamin D supplementation – had muscle wasting. Those rats on the high-fat butter diet without vitamin D supplementation showed the greatest muscle loss of all groups. All rats who received vitamin D supplementation showed less wasting than the corresponding group of rats. One thing to note about those rats that were on the high-fat butter diet with vitamin D is that their muscle loss was not significantly different from rats given a regular diet.
What it Means:
These results support that vitamin D supplementation can support muscle retention even when dietary habits are less than perfect. The most important outcome was seen in the results of the group of rats who received olive oil and vitamin D supplementation. These rats not only showed good muscle tone but also healthy muscle fibers and muscle retention. These results not only support the use of vitamin D but also show that dietary intake of olive oil in addition to vitamin D supplementation seems to further protect muscles from wasting.
Diets that include olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet, appear to be beneficial for reducing the risks of developing many health concerns. Paring good dietary habits with vitamin D supplementation is a reasonable and easy preventative measure, much easier than trying to undo a health condition once it has occurred.
A condition such as muscle wasting often occurs in older individuals, those who are bed-ridden or those who suffer from extended illness and can lead to worse problems. Though this study was on rats, the results may easily translate to helpful treatments for those who will or are experiencing muscle wasting.
Trovato, F., et al. Impact of western and Mediterranean diets and vitamin D on muscle fibers of sedentary rats. Nutrients. 10(2): 231-245, 2018.