The relationship between vitamin D status and physical function in a group of relatively healthy seniors was presented April 25 at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim.
A press release posted on Eurekalert says that "participants with the highest levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had better physical function. And, although physical function declined over the course of the study, it remained significantly higher among those with the highest vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study compared to those with the lowest vitamin D levels.
"The scientists were not surprised to learn that, in general, vitamin D consumption was very low in this group of otherwise healthy seniors. In fact, more than 90 percent of them consumed less vitamin D than currently recommended, and many were relying on dietary supplements."
The study was part of the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study initially designed to assess the associations among body composition, long-term health conditions, and mobility in older adults.
"The researchers say it's impossible to tell from this type of research whether increasing vitamin D intake will actually lead to stronger muscles and preserve physical function. This is partly due to the fact that our bodies can make vitamin D if they get enough sunlight. So, it is possible that the participants with better physical function had higher vitamin D status simply because they were able to go outside more often," the press release notes.