Vitamin D supplementation and muscle strength in pre-sarcopenic elderly Lebanese people: a randomized controlled trial



Previous studies have shown that improving vitamin D status among the elderly may lead to an improvement in muscle mass and muscle strength. In our study, vitamin D supplementation showed significant improvements in vitamin D concentrations as well as appendicular muscle mass in pre-sarcopenic older Lebanese people. However, we found no significant effect on muscle strength.


Improving vitamin D status might improve muscle function and muscle mass that lead to sarcopenia in older subjects. The aim of this randomized, controlled, double-blind study was to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on handgrip strength and appendicular skeletal muscle mass in pre-sarcopenic older Lebanese subjects. We also examined whether this effect differs in normal vs. obese subjects.


Participants (n = 128; 62 men and 66 women) deficient in vitamin D (25(OH)D = 12.92 ± 4.3 ng/ml) were recruited from Saint Charles Hospital, Beirut, Lebanon. The participants were given a supplement of 10,000 IU of cholecalciferol (vitamin D group; n = 64) to be taken three times a week or a placebo tablet (placebo group; n = 64) for 6 months. One hundred fifteen subjects completed the study: 59 had normal weight, while 56 were obese. Strength and functional assessment and biochemical analysis were performed at the start and after 6 months.


Compared to placebo, the vitamin D supplemented group showed significant improvements in appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASMM) (P < 0.001) but not in handgrip strength (P = 0.2901). ANCOVA for ASMM adjusting for obesity and including the interaction between obesity and vitamin D showed a significant interaction. The increase in ASMM with vitamin D in normal-weight subjects was higher than that of obese subjects (B = 35.09 vs. B = 2.19).


Treatment with vitamin D showed beneficial effects on appendicular muscle mass in pre-sarcopenic older Lebanese men and women. However, it had no effect on muscle strength relative to placebo. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN16665940.

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Fig. 1



Appendicular skeletal muscle


Body mass index


Parathyroid hormone


25-Hydroxyvitamin D


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The authors thank Saint Charles Hospital and the participants for their contribution to the study.


This work did not receive any grant support.

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The authors’ responsibilities were as follows: E.H.C. and W.S. equally contributed to the conception and design of the research; E.H.C. contributed in the conduct of the study and data collection; F.S. contributed in the statistical analysis of the data; E.H.C., F.S., C.J.M., B.Y., and W.S. contributed to the interpretation of the data; E.H.C., C.J.M., B.Y., and W.S. had primary responsibility for final content; and E.H.C. and W.S. drafted the manuscript. All authors critically revised the manuscript, agree to be fully accountable for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the work and read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cynthia El Hajj.

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El Hajj, C., Fares, S., Chardigny, J.M. et al. Vitamin D supplementation and muscle strength in pre-sarcopenic elderly Lebanese people: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Osteoporos 14, 4 (2019).

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  • Vitamin D
  • Appendicular skeletal muscle mass
  • Muscle strength
  • Pre-sarcopenia
  • Sarcopenic obesity
  • Nutrition