Washington: Vitamin D is vital for making our muscles work efficiently and boosting energy levels, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher from Newcastle University has shown.
The study led by Dr Akash Sinha has shown that muscle function improves with Vitamin D supplements which are thought to enhance the activity of the mitochondria, the batteries of the cell.
A hormone normally produced in the skin using energy from sunlight, Vitamin D can also be found in a few foods - including fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks and fortified cereals but it can also be effectively boosted with Vitamin D supplements.
It is thought around 60 percent of people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, with children under five, people with dark skin and the elderly being particularly vulnerable.
While it has a well-established association with helping in bone formation and a deficiency can lead to rickets, its role in other health issues is just emerging.
The researchers used non-invasive magnetic resonance scans to measure the response to exercise in 12 patients with severe deficiency before and after treatment with vitamin D.
Dr Sinha, who also works within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said "the scans provided a unique window into what is really going on in the muscle as it works.
"Examining this small group of patients with vitamin D deficiency who experienced symptoms of muscle fatigue, we found that those with very low vitamin D levels improved their muscle efficiency significantly when their vitamin D levels were improved," he said.
Alongside poor bone health, muscle fatigue is a common symptom in vitamin D deficient patients.
This fatigue could be due to reduced efficiency of the mitochondria - the "power stations" within each cell of the body.