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Many elderly men from Brazil show vitamin D deficiency

December 1, 2013

A new study reports that the majority of older Brazilian men have an insufficient or deficient supply with vitamin D.

The observational study assessed the serum vitamin D concentrations and calcium intakes of 234 men (older than 60 years) during the sunniest months in a city located in a region of Brazil, which is known to have very high levels of sunlight (1). The study results showed that 31.5% of the participants were deficient in vitamin D (below 20 ng/mL) and 66.7% had insufficient blood concentrations (below 30 ng/mL). Only 2% reported taking vitamin D supplements; 72% of the participants had low calcium intakes.

The researchers commented that Brazil receives high amounts of direct sunlight as it is located near the equator, enabling year-round, natural vitamin D production. In theory, this would translate into the Brazilian population having good and adequate levels of vitamin D. However, there are a few different reasons that might explain the low vitamin D levels found in this population, the scientists said. The older population may not seek enough sun exposure for their darker skin types and it is more difficult for the elderly to produce vitamin D because their skin gets thinner and is unable to produce as much vitamin D as younger people. Unfortunately, food fortification is low in Brazil and many cannot afford supplementation.

References

  1. Cabral M. A. et. al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency during the summer and its relationship with sun exposure and skin phototype in elderly men living in the tropics. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2013; 8:1347–1351.