Older patients who do not get enough vitamin D are at increased risk of disability, according to US researchers.
They warned that older adults were particularly prone to low vitamin D levels because they may get less exposure to sunlight.
They analysed data from an Italian study involving 976 people with a mean age of 74.8 years. The researchers found that physical performance, such as walking speed, ability to stand from a chair, and hand grip strength, were about five to 10% lower in those who had low levels of vitamin D.
Lead author Denise Houston, from WakeForestUniversity in North Carolina, said: 'With a growing older population, we need to identify better ways to reduce the risk of disability. Our study showed a significant relationship between low vitamin D levels in older adults and poorer physical performance.'
Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences (2007) http://biomed.gerontologyjournals.org