Vitamin D Levels Linked to Mobility in the Elderly
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, May 30, 2012, abstracted from “Low 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Predicts the Onset of Mobility Limitation and Disability in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: The Health ABC Study” in the May 9, 2012 issue of the Journal of Gerontology
Vitamin D blood levels are continually being shown to affect a diverse range of health functions, including metabolic health (1), mental health (2), ovarian health (3), nerve health (4) and critical illness (5). The current recommendations by the National Institute of Health classify vitamin D blood levels as follows (6):
Less than 30 nanomoles/Liter
Greater than 50 nmol/L
Greater than 125 nmol/L
Now a new study (7) suggests that vitamin D levels may also be linked to mobility in the elderly. The limitations in mobility among the elderly “strongly predicts” future disability resulting in dependency, institutionalization, greater health care costs, poor health outcomes, and death (8).
In the study, 2099 patients with an average age of 75 participating in the Health ABC Study (9) provided blood samples, completed two mobility tests (1/4-mile walk and walking up steps) and were followed up for 6 years. The patients were divided into three groups:
Group 1: < 50 nmol/L plasma vitamina D
Group 2: 50-75 nmol/L plasma vitamin D
Group 3: > 75 nmol/L plasma vitamin D.
The researchers found that compared to the > 75 nmol/L group, those in the < 50 nmol/L group had a 62% increased risk of having limited mobility and 122% increased risk of becoming disabled in regards to their mobility while the 50-75 nmol/L group had a 37% increased risk of having limited mobility and 40% increased risk of disabled mobility (p < 0.001). The researchers then commented on the Institute of Medicine’s recommended > 50 nmol/L levels, stating that this study “suggests that for mobility, higher [vitamin D blood] concentrations than those suggested by the Institute of Medicine may be optimal.”
For the researchers, “Low [vitamin D blood levels] was associated with an increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in community-dwelling, initially well-functioning black and white older adults” and that “Prevention or treatment of low [vitamin D blood levels] may provide a pathway for reducing the burden of mobility disability in older adults.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
1. Thomas GN. Vitamin D Levels Predict All-Cause and Cardiovascular DiseaseMortality in Subjects With the Metabolic Syndrome. Diabetes Care 2012; 35:1158–1164
2. Serum vitamin D concentrations are related to depression in young adult US population: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. International Archives of Medicine 2010, 3:29 doi:10.1186/1755-7682-3-29
3. Toriola AT. Independent and joint effects of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and calcium on ovarian cancer risk: A prospective nested case-control study. Eur J Cancer 2010 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Eisman JA. Vitamin D Deficiency in Critically Ill Patients. New Eng Jou Med 2009; 360(18): 1912-1914
5. Mowry et al. Vitamin D status is associated with relapse rate in pediatric-onset MS. Annals of Neurology, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/ana.21972
6. “Vitamin D Fact Sheet” - http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
7. Houston DK. Low 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Predicts the Onset of Mobility Limitation and Disability in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: The Health ABC Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2012 May 9. [Epub ahead of print].
8. Guralnik JM, Fried LP, Salive ME. Disability as a public health outcome in the aging population. Annu Rev Public Health. 1996;17: 25–46.
9. Health ABC Study information available at http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/intramural-research-program/dynamics-health-aging-and-body-composition-health-abc