The majority of elderly people in Brazil have too low vitamin D levels

May 24, 2013

A new study reports that blood vitamin D concentrations of people living in São Paulo, Brazil, are good among the young and active during the summer, but not so in the winter, and that the elderly have poor levels year round.

The observational study measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels during summer and winter periods in various groups of people totaling 591 participants: nursing home residents and middle-class community dwellers
(90–95% white, 5–10% black) as well as physically active elderly people and a group of young individuals, age 17–35 (60–75% white, 20% Asian and 5–12% black). The study results showed that 73% of the partici-pants had 25(OH)D concentrations below the recommended value of 75 nmol/L (1). Much lower 25(OH)D values were found in the older individuals (between 24 ng/ml in summer and 14 ng/ml in winter) as com-pared to younger individuals (between 41 ng/ml in summer and 28 ng/ml in winter).

The researchers commented that these results point to the need for public health action by the government, which could implement measures such as vitamin D supplement distribution to nursing homes, foodfortifi-cation and medical education about the high prevalence of this condition among the elderly, especially about the associated higher risk of fractures. The number of individuals in the study who received vitamin D sup-plements was very low. Those who used vitamin D supplements took 200–400 IU per day, which was not enough to prevent deficiency. The Endocrine Practice Guidelines recommends adults take 1,500–2,000 IU vitamin D per day to prevent vitamin D deficiency (2).


  1. Maeda S. S. et al. Factors affecting vitamin D status in different populations in the city of São Paulo, Brazil: the São PAulo vitamin D Evaluation Study (SPADES). BMC Endocrine Disorders. 2013; 13:14.
  2. Holick M. F. et al. Endocrine Society: Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. JCEM. 2011; 96(7):1911-1930.