Vitamin D-deficient individuals experience more mobility issues

Older individuals with low vitamin D levels were more likely to struggle with everyday tasks, such as dressing or climbing stairs, compared with individuals with high levels of vitamin D, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researchers used data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam to examine two groups over the course of 6 years: 762 individual between the ages of 65 and 88 and 597 individuals between the ages of 55 and 65. Participants were split into groups with the highest, moderate and lowest vitamin D levels according to blood test results. To assess mobility limitations, researchers asked both groups about their ability to perform routine tasks, including sitting and standing from a chair or walking outside for 5 minutes without resting.

Study results showed that, among the older group of participants, 70% of individuals in the lowest vitamin D levels reported having at least one physical limitation, while the majority of individuals in the top two vitamin D groups did not report any physical limitations. Similarly, individuals with low vitamin D levels in the younger cohort were twice as likely to have at least one physical limitation than those with higher vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D-deficient individuals also developed additional limitations over time.  More mobility issues were reported in the older cohort after 3 years, whereas the younger cohort developed additional limitations over 6 years.

“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, the Netherlands, stated 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.”

For more information:

Sohl E. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1698

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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