Vitamin D deficiency may lead to poor muscle function in older people

In a new study, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is an important determinant of poor skeletal muscle function in adults aged 60 years and over.

The research was conducted by a team from Trinity College Dublin.

Maintaining skeletal muscle function throughout life is a crucial component of successful aging, in promoting independence, mobility, quality of life and reducing falls and frailty.

While resistance exercise is known to preserve muscle function, there is growing evidence that adequate vitamin D status may also be protective.

In the study, the team analyzed data from 4157 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and over.

They found the prevalence of muscle weakness was twice as high among older adults with vitamin D deficiency (40.4%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (21.6%).

Similarly, impaired “muscle performance” was three times higher in older adults with vitamin D deficiency (25.2%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (7.9%).

Based on more complex statistical analysis, the study showed that vitamin D deficiency significantly increased the likelihood of impaired muscle strength and performance.

The study confirmed the associated benefits of physical activity. Older adults partaking in regular moderate physical activity had a significantly lower likelihood of poor muscle strength and physical performance.

In summary, vitamin D deficiency was associated with impaired muscle strength and performance in a large study of community-dwelling older people.

It is generally accepted that vitamin D deficiency (at the 25(OH)D <30 nmol/L cut-off) should be reversed to prevent bone disease, this strategy may also protect skeletal muscle function in aging.

The lead author of the study is Maria O” Sullivan, associate professor in Nutrition at Trinity College Dublin.

The study is published in the international journal Clinical Interventions in Ageing.

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