Supplementation with vitamin D helps to alleviate weakness and fatigue seen with deficiency. However, large bolus doses appear to worsen the risk of falls. Whether this occurs as a direct result of muscle weakness is currently unknown. Thus, the aims of this study were to examine the muscle function following administration of high doses of vitamin D. Given the safety issues associated with bolus doses, experiments were conducted on C57BL6 mice. Mice at eight weeks of age with otherwise normal levels of vitamin D were supplemented for four weeks with a high dose (HIGH; n
= 12) of vitamin D (20000 IU/kg food) designed to provide a year’s worth of vitamin D. These mice were compared to another group who received that same yearly dose in a single bolus i.p. injection (YEAR; n
= 12). Mice provided with standard mouse chow, which contained 1000 IU/kg food, and injected with the vitamin D vehicle were used as controls (CON; n
= 16). Force and fatigue properties of hind limb fast- and slow-twitch muscles were measured. CON animals ingested vitamin D consistent with typical human supplementation. HIGH animals consumed significantly more food than the CON animals, such that they ingested more than a year’s worth of vitamin D in four weeks. Despite this, there were few differences in the muscle function compared with CON. YEAR animals demonstrated lower absolute and relative forces in both muscles compared to the HIGH animals, as well as lower force during fatigue and early recovery. Large bolus doses of vitamin D appear to have detrimental effects on the skeletal muscle function, likely being a contributor to increased risk of falls observed with similar doses in humans. Mice ingesting the same amount over four weeks did not demonstrate the same deleterious effects, suggesting this may be a safe way to provide high vitamin D if required.
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