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  • 2013

Insufficient vitamin D supply may promote disability in older adults

Published on

31 July 2013

According to new research from the Netherlands vitamin D deficiency may increase the likelihood of having trouble performing daily activities for people who are 55 and older.

The observational study analyzed blood vitamin D concentrations of 725 participants with a mean age of 60 years as well as 1,237 participants with a mean age of 75 (1). Over a 6-year period, limitations in performing basic activities of daily living were documented (such as walking up and down stairs without resting, dressing and undressing, sitting and standing from chair, walking outside for 5 minutes without a break, and using personal or public transportation). The study results showed that the average vitamin D status was 21 ng/ml, with deficiency (below 20 ng/ml) seen in about 50% of older individuals. The average level was 23 ng/ml in the younger group with 41% deficient. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased risk of develo-ping at least one functional limitation.

The researchers commented that the known presence of vitamin D receptors on muscle cells and the positive effects of vitamin D supplementation on muscle function indicate that there is a potential positive effect of vitamin D on functional performance. With increasing age, factors additional to vitamin D status would be most likely effecting activity decline. Past studies reported that sufficient vitamin D levels may be associated with increased muscle mass, strength and physical performance.


  1. Sohl E. et al. Vitamin D status is associated with functional limitations and functional decline in older individuals. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Published online July 2013.

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