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A Pilot Study of the Impact of Vitamin D3 on Muscle Performance in Elderly Women

This study has been completed.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Boston Medical Center
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Bess Dawson-Hughes, Tufts University Identifier:
First received: September 29, 2009
Last updated: January 6, 2012
Last verified: January 2012
The purpose of the study is to investigate the effect of vitamin D on muscle tissue and physical performance.

Condition Intervention
Sarcopenia Falls Dietary Supplement: vitamin D3 Dietary Supplement: Placebo

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Pilot Study of the Impact of Vitamin D3 on Muscle Performance in Elderly Women

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Bess Dawson-Hughes, Tufts University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Define and compare changes in size and number of type II muscle fibers in response to 4 months of treatment with 4000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or placebo in older women with low-normal 25(OH)D levels. [ Time Frame: 4 months ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Define and compare vitamin D signaling in muscle biopsy specimens taken before and after the treatment. [ Time Frame: 4 months ]
  • Define and compare changes in clinical measures of muscle performance before and after treatment [ Time Frame: 4 months ]
  • Define and compare levels of bone turnover before and after treatment [ Time Frame: 4 months ]

Enrollment: 24
Study Start Date: October 2006
Study Completion Date: February 2011
Primary Completion Date: February 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: vitamin D3
vitamin D3 capsule 4000 IU p.o. daily
Dietary Supplement: vitamin D3
4000 IU once daily by mouth for 4 months
Placebo Comparator: placebo
microcrystalline cellulose capsule p.o. daily (identical to vitamin D capsule)
Dietary Supplement: Placebo
microcrystalline cellulose capsule p.o. daily (identical to vitamin D capsule)

Detailed Description:

The investigators have recently observed that among healthy women age 65 and older who participated in a placebo-controlled vitamin D and calcium intervention trial, those treated with supplements had a lower risk of falling than those in the placebo group. Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) are present in muscle tissue and are thought to mediate the favorable effects of vitamin D on muscle performance. Vitamin D insufficiency is common particularly in the elderly and supplementation with a relatively high dose of vitamin D may be a useful approach for improving muscle performance and potentially lowering the risk of falling in sedentary older women and other high-risk populations.

The investigators will aim to study women, age 65 and older, with 25(OH)D levels below 60 nmol/l in a double-blind, 4-month randomized controlled pilot study. Eligible subjects will be randomized to treatment with 4000 IU per day of vitamin D3 or placebo. Blood and 24 hour urine will be measured at the beginning and end of the study as outlined in the intervention and measurement schedule below. In addition, a safety random spot urine will be analyzed for calcium and creatinine on day 30. Muscle performance measures will be measured and muscle biopsies will be performed at the beginning and end of the study.


Ages Eligible for Study:   65 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Age 65 and older
  • 25 (OH)D levels >22.5 nmol/l or <60 nmol/l
  • Women must have a composite physical performance score of ≤ 9 out of a possible score of 12.
  • Subjects must agree not to change their usual level of physical activity or change the amount of calcium and vitamin D supplement they use for the duration of the study.
  • If they are taking calcium supplements, they must agree to take the supplement any time after lunch.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • General:

    1. Total calcium intake >1000mg daily on the prescreening questionnaire.
    2. More than 400 IU daily of supplemental vitamin D on the prescreening questionnaire.
    3. A screening 25(OH)D level > 60 nmol/ L.
    4. Screening 24-hour urine calcium > 275 mg.
    5. An abnormal serum calcium.
    6. Travel to latitude <35 degrees N within 2 months of the time of enrollment; plans to travel to latitude <35 degrees N during the 4-month study, with the likelihood of tanning (e.g. appreciable sun exposure without sun screen).
    7. Greater than 2 drinks of alcohol a day.
  • Medications:

    1. Bone active drugs such as bisphosphonates, estrogen, calcitonin, teriparatide
    2. Diuretics
    3. Oral glucocorticoids in the last month
    4. Phosphates in the last week
    5. Lithium
    6. Cod liver oil
    7. Total parenteral nutrition
    8. Calcium containing antacids
    9. Coumadin or other prescribed anticoagulants
  • Diseases:

    1. Active thyroid disease - unstable levothyroxine dose
    2. Parathyroid disease
    3. Sarcoidosis
    4. Fracture of the foot, leg, or hip in the last year
    5. Renal stone < 5 years
    6. Alkaline phosphatase > 10% above the upper limit of normal
    7. Pancreatitis
    8. Active malignancy (other than basal cell cancer of the skin) or cancer therapy in the last year
    9. Uncontrolled arrhythmia in last year
    10. Malabsorption
    11. Use of a walker or wheelchair (3-post cane okay)
    12. Nasal oxygen use
    13. Must have a basic mobility level of walking 4 meters
    14. Hemiplegia
    15. Tuberculosis
    16. Type 1 Diabetes mellitus or unstable type 2 diabetes mellitus (fasting blood glucose >130 mg/dL)
    17. Other abnormality in screening labs, at the discretion of the study physician
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00986596

United States, Massachusetts
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02111
Sponsors and Collaborators
Tufts University
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Boston Medical Center
Principal Investigator: Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD Tufts University
Study Director: Lisa Ceglia, MD Tufts University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Bess Dawson-Hughes, Director, Bone Metabolism Laboratory, Tufts University Identifier: NCT00986596     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 2450
Study First Received: September 29, 2009
Last Updated: January 6, 2012

Keywords provided by Bess Dawson-Hughes, Tufts University:
vitamin D
skeletal muscle
vitamin D receptor

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Muscular Atrophy
Neuromuscular Manifestations
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Pathological Conditions, Anatomical
Signs and Symptoms
Vitamin D
Growth Substances
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Bone Density Conservation Agents processed this record on July 21, 2017