Background: vitamin D deficiency among older people results in poor bone and muscle health and an increased risk of fractures. In the UK, government initiatives and the launch of the Osteoporosis Strategy have been in place since 1998, highlighting the importance of adequate levels of vitamin D for its prevention. The aim of this analysis is to assess vitamin D status and examine associations of deficiency with risk factors among older people in England.
Methods: a valid vitamin D sample was obtained from 1,766 informants as part of the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2000, a nationally representative survey of people aged 65 and over living in institutions and private households in England.
Results: among both men and women in institutions, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was higher and mean serum vitamin D levels were significantly lower than among those in private households. Regression analyses showed that women were more likely to be vitamin D deficient than men (odds ratio (OR) 2.1) and deficiency was associated with limiting longstanding illness (OR 3.57), manual social classes (OR 2.4), poor general health (OR 1.92) and body mass index<25 kg/m2 (OR 2.02), and was 67% more likely among informants in the winter/autumn. Overall, the results show no significant improvements in vitamin D status in comparison to earlier National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) results.
Conclusion: vitamin D deficiency exists at worrying levels among those aged 65 years and over. Further action is needed to alert health professionals about the risks related to vitamin D deficiency and extend the provision of prevention and treatment programmes targeted to those in need.