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Vitamin D deficiency might strongly hinder older people

Friday July 26, 2013
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Vitamin D-deficient older individuals are more likely to struggle with everyday tasks such as dressing or climbing stairs, according to a Dutch study.

Scientists estimate as many as 90% of older individuals are deficient in vitamin D, according to background information in the study, which was published July 17 on the website of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Using data from an ongoing Dutch cohort study, the researchers examined 762 people ages 65 to 88 and 597 people ages 55 to 65 during a six-year span. Using blood test results, the subjects were split into groups with the highest, moderate and lowest vitamin D levels. To assess mobility limitations, participants were asked about their ability to perform routine tasks, including sitting down and standing up from a chair or walking outside for five minutes without resting.

Among the older group of participants, people with the lowest vitamin D levels were 1.7 times more likely to have at least one functional limitation compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. In the younger cohort, individuals with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to have at least one physical limitation.

Although the majority of the people in the older cohort with high or moderate levels of vitamin D did not report any physical limitations, 70% of those with the lowest vitamin D levels had at least one limitation.

"Seniors who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have mobility limitations and to see their physical functioning decline over time," Evelien Sohl, Msc, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said in a news release. "Older individuals with these limitations are more likely to be admitted to nursing homes and face a higher risk of mortality."

Study abstract: http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/early/2013/07/17/jc.2013-1698.abstract.


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