A new study has shown that vitamin D deficiency is a major factor that determines skeletal muscle function in adults aged 60 years and over. If there is a deficiency, the muscle function deteriorates.
The study is based on analysis of data from 4157 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and over, from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). Two validated measures of muscle function were assessed, namely hand grip strength and the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Serum vitamin D was measured [25-hydroxyvitamin D] with a concentration <30 nmol/L classed as vitamin D deficient, the cut-off known to be associated with bone disease.
Scientists found that prevalence of muscle weakness was twice as high among older adults with vitamin D deficiency (40.4%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (21.6%). Same is the case of impaired ‘muscle performance’ which was 3 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 significantly lower likelihood of poor muscle strength and physical performance.
Overall our findings add weight to the evidence in favour of public health strategies to eliminate vitamin D deficiency in older populations. Future research, however, should identify and focus on older adults with vitamin D deficiency and aim to better understand if reversing this deficiency improves skeletal muscle function, said one of the scientists involved with the study.