Background: Vitamin D insufficiency is common in the elderly. However, previous studies have utilized 25-hydroxvvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations as low as <16 ng/mL for defining vitamin D insufficiency. Moreover, most of the studies have been conducted in European patients, in certain geographic areas of the United States, or in institutionalized elderly.
Objective: The goal of this study was to characterize vitamin D concentrations in ambulatory elderly living in metropolitan Denver, Colorado, utilizing 25(OH)D concentrations <32 ng/mL as the definition for vitamin D insufficiency.
Methods: Ambulatory older adults (aged 65-89 years) with clinic visits during December 2005 and January 2006 were enrolled. Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium, phosphorus, creatinine, and albumin were measured; height and weight were also measured. Data regarding dietary and over-the-counter vitamin D intake were collected, as well as information on body mass index, history of osteoporosis, osteoporosis treatment, and history of falls and fractures.
Results: Eighty patients (mean [SD] age, 77.8 [5.3] years; age range, 66-89 years) completed the study; there were no dropouts. The majority of patients were white (88%) and female (68%). Fifty-nine (74%) were found to have vitamin D insufficiency. Mean total and over-the-counter vitamin D intake was significantly higher in sufficient (P < 0.01) and insufficient (P < 0.05) patients compared with deficient patients, but dietary intake did not differ significantly between groups. The majority of patients who were vitamin D insufficient consumed more than the recommended 400 to 600 IU/d of vitamin D. Obese patients were found to have significantly lower 25(OH)D concentrations (P < 0.001) and higher PTH concentrations (P = 0.04) than nonobese patients.
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency is prevalent in ambulatory, and especially obese, elderly living in Denver, Colorado, despite vitamin D intake consistent with national recommendations. Dietary intake of vitamin D appeared to be unreliable to prevent insufficiency. Based on our results, along with other published data, we feel that national recommendations for vitamin D intake in the elderly should be increased to at least 800 to 1000 IU/d of over-the-counter supplemental cholecalciferol.