Whether you want to protect your muscles from exercise-induced damage or you want to preserve muscle strength into old age, getting the proper nutrients for muscle health is a must. If you’re interested in keeping your muscles healthy, boosting their strength and protecting them from damage, consider these top vitamins for muscles.
Vitamin C and E help protect your muscles from damage
Both vitamin C and vitamin E are considered antioxidants, meaning they protect the body from oxidative damage. Studies show that they protect muscles from damage induced by exercise.[1-4]
In one study, female athletes supplemented with 250 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, both, or a placebo daily for four weeks. The women who supplemented with either vitamin C, vitamin E, or a combination of the two saw significantly reduced markers of muscle damage, namely creatine kinase levels.
In another, 500 mg vitamin C and 400 IU vitamin E led to about a 50% reduction in interluekin-6 levels (a pro-inflammatory compound) compared to control.
Vitamin C supplementation may also help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise, but more studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Taking vitamin C and vitamin E
Take 250 mg of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E to prevent muscle damage.
Vitamin D help improve muscle strength
Vitamin D is very important for maintaining healthy bones, but it can also keep your muscles strong too. Muscle weakness is one of the top symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, in fact.
People with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have stronger muscles, and supplementing with vitamin D helps improve muscle strength in both younger and older adults.
Vitamin D is especially helpful as we age. As we get older, our muscle mass tends to decline, a condition called sarcopenia. While both men and women experience loss of muscle with age, sarcopenia is especially prevalent in women after menopause. This is because one of the factors affecting loss of muscle mass is hormone levels.
Fortunately, supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to help postmenopausal women to improve their muscle strength.
In one study, postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes who had 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml were given 6600 IU of vitamin D per week or placebo for three months. At the end of the study, those women who were given vitamin D showed significant improvements in grip strength over the control group.
In another study, women taking 1000 IU vitamin D daily had a 25.3% increase in muscle strength, while women receiving placebo experienced a 6.8% loss in lean muscle mass. Women who did not receive any vitamin D were also twice as likely to fall.
These studies show that vitamin D has some extremely beneficial effects when it comes to promoting and preserving muscle function and strength, especially in the elderly, which researchers believe can help reduce the risk of falls and the loss of balance as people age.
Taking vitamin D
You’ll want to shoot for blood levels of at least 50 ng/mL for best results, which may require at least 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, if not more. Get your levels checked with a blood test (the 25(OH)D- test) and talk to your doctor to see how much you need to reach the healthy range.
Share your experience
Do you take vitamins for muscles? How much do you find you need to keep your levels in the target range and to prevent symptoms? Share your tips in the comments section below.