Here’s a list of studies about vitamin D and athletic performance:

Vitamin D Status, Body Composition, and Fitness Measures in College-Aged Students (2014)

Conclusion: A study of 39 young adults found that those with higher vitamin D levels also had a higher level of cardiovascular fitness (Vo2 Max) and less body fat.


Vitamin D Concentration in 342 Professional Football Players and Association with Lower Limb Isokinetic Function (2014)

Conclusion: A study of 342 Qatar soccer players found that those with higher vitamin D levels also had higher lean body mass compared to players with lower vitamin D levels.


The Influence of Winter Vitamin D Supplementation on Muscle Function and Injury Occurrence in Elite Ballet Dancers: A Controlled Study (2014)

Conclusion: A four-month study of 24 ballet dancers found that those supplementing with 2000 IU of vitamin D daily were isometrically stronger, could jump higher, and suffered fewer injuries compared to the control group.


Vitamin D Sufficiency Associates with an Increase in Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines After Intense Exercise in Humans (2014)

Conclusion: A study of young adult males found that those with higher vitamin D levels experienced less muscular inflammation post-exercise compared to those with lower vitamin D levels.


Vitamin D Increases Cellular Turnover and Functionally Restores the Skeletal Muscle After Crush Injury in Rats (2013)

Conclusion: In a study where male rats were given crush injuries, those given a giant dose of vitamin D recovered faster.


Higher Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations Associate with a Faster Recovery of Skeletal Muscle Strength After Muscular Injury (2013)

Conclusion: A study of 14 physically active adults found that those with higher vitamin D levels experienced less muscular weakness following intense physical exercise, both immediately and days after the exercise.


Effects of a Single Biodose of Ultraviolet Radiation Upon the Speed of College Women (2013)

Conclusion: This double blind experiment on female sprinters found that exposure to ultraviolet light slightly improved the running speed of the women compared to their performance following exposure to incandescent light.


Vitamin D Status and Muscle Function in Post-Menarchal Adolescent Girls (2009)

Conclusion: This study of 99 pre-teen girls found that those with higher vitamin D levels could jump higher, faster, and with more power than girls with lower vitamin D levels. “We conclude that vitamin D was significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls.”


Running on D: The “Sun Vitamin” May Boost Performance, But You probably Aren’t Getting Enough (2009)

Note: Overview of how important vitamin D is for physical performance.


Athletic Performance and Vitamin D (2009)

Conclusion: “Numerous studies, particularly in the German literature in the 1950s, show vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light improves athletic performance. Furthermore, a consistent literature indicates physical and athletic performance is seasonal; it peaks when 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels peak, declines as they decline, and reaches its nadir when 25(OH)D levels are at their lowest. Vitamin D also increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. Most cross-sectional studies show that 25(OH)D levels are directly associated with musculoskeletal performance in older individuals. Most randomized controlled trials, again mostly in older individuals, show that vitamin D improves physical performance. Vitamin D may improve athletic performance in vitamin D-deficient athletes. Peak athletic performance may occur when 25(OH)D levels approach those obtained by natural, full-body, summer sun exposure, which is at least 50 ng x mL(-1). Such 25(OH)D levels may also protect the athlete from several acute and chronic medical conditions.”


Peak Athletic Performance and Vitamin D (2007)

Note: Fantastic article covering effects of vitamin D on physical performance by Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council.


Severe Myopathy Associated with Vitamin D Deficiency in Western New York. (2000)

Conclusion: This documents five case studies where patients with severe myopathy (reduced muscle function) bad enough to need wheelchairs were found to have low vitamin D levels. After undergoing 4-6 weeks of high-dose vitamin D therapy, four of the five patients achieved full mobility and muscle strength restoration, with the fifth also enjoying improved mobility.


Low Serum Calcidiol Concentration in Older Adults with Reduced Muscular Function (1999)

Conclusion: This randomized population survey of 349 elderly people found that those with higher vitamin D levels demonstrated better arm strength, a better ability to climb stairs, better overall physical activity, and fewer falls.


Vitamin D Deficiency, Hypocalcemia, and Increased Skeletal Muscle Degradation in Rats. (1983)

Conclusion: This study took two groups of rat pups and raised one on a vitamin D-deficient diet and raised the other group on a vitamin D-supplemented diet. The pups raised on the vitamin D-deficient diet gained weight at a significantly lower rate compared to the supplemented group and had lower muscle mass.The vitamin D-deficient group eventually developed hypocalcemia, at which point their growth rate declined even more. Later, the vitamin D-deficient rats were given vitamin D, leading to an increase in muscle mass and weight gain.


Also see studies on vitamin D and 

Muscle Strength

Physical Performance




Athlete’s Edge: Faster, Quicker, Stronger with Vitamin D (2011) by Dr. John Cannell is a special gem focusing exclusively on Vitamin D’s effect on physical and athletic performance exploring the research on vitamin D’s benefits for cardiovascular health, muscular strength, speed, endurance, and much more.
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