Can something as a simple as a vitamin supplement help your body recover more quickly from the pain and stiffness associated with vigorous exercise, or even improve recovery from surgery? Researchers at TOSH–The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital and USANA Health Sciences, Inc. are hoping to answer these questions with different studies focused on vitamin supplements.

In the first study, Tyler Barker, PhD., a physiologist at TOSH, and Brian Dixon, PhD., a senior scientist at USANA, are hoping to determine whether vitamin D – most recently championed as a means to prevent or reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease – can reduce post-exercise muscular weakness in young, physically-active people.

“The implication here is that vitamin D will help shorten recovery time by minimizing muscular weakness,” says Dr. Barker in a press release. “That could make a significant difference in an individual’s performance and help them avoid some of the unpleasant after-effects of vigorous or unaccustomed exercise and establish the basis for future studies conducted at the molecular and cellular level.”

Dr. Barker classifies the study participants as “weekend warriors,” ages 18 to 45 years old, who are not taking any vitamin supplements. The athletes are randomly divided into three groups: one is given a placebo, the other two groups receive either 200 IU or 4000 IU (international units) of a specially formulated vitamin D (cholecalciferol) supplement.

Study participants will provide several blood samples and muscular strength measures prior to and following intense exercise. Dr. Barker says researchers are only testing study participants during the winter months when a person’s vitamin D levels are at their lowest levels. The study began this past winter and is expected to run for two to three more years.

A second study involves patients at TOSH with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries. Investigators are hoping this study helps them find a complementary therapeutic approach for improving muscular strength in post-surgical patients.

“In results recently published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, we discovered an association between plasma ascorbic acid concentrations prior to surgery and muscular strength gains after surgery,” says Dr. Barker. “Specifically, patients with higher levels of vitamin C in their blood before ACL surgery are showing greater strength recovery after surgery.”

(Source: Press Release)