Most of us have low levels of vitamin D. Although our bodies manufacture the vitamin naturally from sunlight, we don't spend enough time outdoors to get enough D. That's why doctors frequently recommend the supplement to their patients. There's been some evidence to show that vitamin D can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you're going through menopause, there's now another reason to pop the supplement: It can boost your muscle mass, a new study found--even if your change of life happened over 10 years ago. Stronger, larger muscles keep you flexible, making you less likely to lose your balance and fall. Since muscle mass begins to shrink after age 30--even if you stay active by walking or working out--anything that can keep your body strong is a good thing.
The study, done in Brazil, followed two groups of women, one taking the supplement, the other a placebo, for nine months. At the end, the women taking vitamin D had increased their muscle mass by 25 percent. The women who hadn't had lost muscle strength, and were twice as likely to fall.
The study's conclusion: From the evidence, it seemed that vitamin D was the main reason for the boost in muscle mass. So if you're not already taking the vitamin, talk to your doctor about starting.