Vitamin D and May Improve Exercise Performance

Dr Emad Al-Dujaili Reader in Biochemistry and Nutrition, Queen Margaret University Department of Health Science Queen Margaret Interview with:
Dr Emad Al-Dujaili
Reader in Biochemistry and Nutrition,
Queen Margaret University
Department of Health Science
Queen Margaret University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Al-Dujaili: Recent studies have implicated vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for Cardiovascular disease and its deficiency is a potential biological predictor of increased rates of CVD. We have done 2 earlier studies investigating the effects of Vitamin D intake on Blood pressure and the stress hormone level cortisol and found that people taking the supplement of Vitamin D had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those who took the placebo. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus and oxidative stress and reduced exercise performance. For instance, the Framingham offspring study proved that low levels of vitamin D are independently related to Cardiovascular disease incidence. In this placebo-controlled study, We have observed that people given 50ug of Vitamin D daily for 2 weeks showed a significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, reduced urinary free cortisol (the hormone that produces stress and high blood pressure if its levels are high. Moreover, the distance cycled in 20 minutes significantly increased by 30% with slightly less efforts compared with that before Vitamin D supplement.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Al-Dujaili: It has been noted that vitamin D deficiency is common in high geographical latitudes, for example in Northern European countries, where ultraviolet intensity and short winter days combine to limit production of vitamin D in the skin. It is now widely accepted that vitamin D exerts multiple roles of in the human body through vitamin D receptors (VDR), and therefore Vitamin D has many functions including antipoliferative effects on vascular smooth muscle, immune modulation, stimulating release of inflammatory cytokines and modulates renin-angiotensis-aldosterone system. My take-home message is to investigate vitamin D status in patients not only those who show symptoms of classical vitamin D deficiency, but also those who suffer from diabetes type 2, insulin resistance, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers. In addition, supplement with vitamin D might prevent the onset of the above diseases simply because vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Al-Dujaili: It is time to face the fact that huge numbers of people in the UK and Europe are deficient in serum vitamin D levels. The clinical significance of vitamin D deficiency in the elderly has been well documented, but recently, low or sub-optimal vitamin D levels in apparently healthy adults throughout the world are becoming increasingly identified. Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem. However, before we can jump into hasty decisions, it is now absolutely important to carry out larger, double-blinded clinical trials investigating the multiple beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation in healthy individuals and perhaps later in some patients.


Presented at the 2015 Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh

Vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease

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Dr Emad Al-Dujaili (2015). Vitamin D and May Improve Exercise Performance