Vitamin D

A new study has found that low vitamin D levels in people over 55 are associated with an inability to perform ordinary tasks of daily life.

Dutch researchers studied two groups of older people — one of 725 men and women aged 55 to 65, and another of 1,237 older than 65 — to see if they could walk up or down a 15-step staircase, dress and undress, stand from a sitting position, cut their toenails, walk outside unaided for five minutes, and use their own or public transportation. Then they did blood tests for vitamin D levels.

After controlling for factors including age, physical activity and chronic diseases, they found that in both groups, a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter was associated with an increased number of disabilities compared with those with a normal level (above 30). The study was published online in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The lead author, Dr. Evelien Sohl of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said that the study does not establish that low vitamin D is the cause of disability. “Maybe vitamin D supplements would be of benefit,” she said. “But before we can assume this, we have to test it in randomized controlled trials.”age-management