Vitamin D for Doing Daily Duties

Vitamin D could prevent physical decline in older adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People get their vitamin D from sunlight, foods and supplements. This vitamin is important for bones as well as for muscles. New research shows that getting enough vitamin D may also help adults maintain their physical abilities as they age.

While some people may think losing some of their physical function is part of the aging process, many seniors are able to stay active in their golden years.

A new study showed that older adults with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to be able to perform daily tasks, like getting dressed or walking up stairs, compared to those with lower levels of vitamin D.

"Ask your doctor about getting enough vitamin D."

Evelien Sohl, MSc, from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted this study to find out if vitamin D levels affected adults' ability to complete daily activities.

The researchers used data from The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, which took place between 1995 and 2002.

This study looked at two age groups. The older group had 762 people between the ages of 65 and 88. The younger group had 597 people between the ages of 55 and 65.

The researchers had blood test results for members of both groups for six years. They divided these blood test results by the levels of vitamin D into high, moderate or low.

The people in the study were asked about their ability to do six everyday activities:

  • walking up and down stairs without resting
  • dressing themselves
  • sitting and standing from a chair
  • cutting their own toenails
  • walking for five minutes without rest
  • driving or using public transportation

The study found that, in the older group, the people who had very low vitamin D blood levels were 1.7 times more likely to have trouble with at least one daily task, compared to those with the highest vitamin D levels.

In the younger group, the people with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to have trouble with everyday tasks.

Most of the people with high levels of vitamin D said they had no problems with the daily activities.However, 70 percent of the people with very low vitamin D blood levels said they had trouble with at least one of the tasks.

The study also found that the adults with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have trouble with these tasks in the future.

According to Sohl, "Vitamin D supplementation could provide a way to prevent physical decline, but the idea needs to be explored further with additional studies."

The researchers noted that vitamin D deficiencies and difficulties with everyday tasks are both more common in older individuals, which could have influenced these results.

This study was published July 17 in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

The research was funded by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, Directorate of Long-Term Care. Blood serum measurements were partly funded by Merck & Co. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 18, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013