Ten-year trends in vitamin intake in free-living healthy elderly people: the risk of subclinical malnutrition

J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Feb;15(2):99-103. doi: 10.1007/s12603-011-0020-x.


Objective: To explore the trends of vitamin intake over a 10-year follow-up in a group of successfully aging elderly people.

Design: Longitudinal study.

Setting: City of Padua, Italy.

Participants: 78 (34M/44F) free-living and still well-functioning survivors among the Italian participants in the SENECA multicenter project, aged 70-75 y at the baseline.

Measurements: data were collected by means of a modified validated dietary history, both at baseline and then 10 y later. The dietary intake of vitamins B1, B2, A and C were considered, calculating the percentages of individuals with an intake below the lowest European Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI).

Results: mean energy and macronutrient intake were consistent with dietary guidelines at both time points. There was no decline in total energy intake after a decade. At baseline, the intake of all vitamins exceeded the Lowest European RDI, with the exception of vitamin B1, for which 44% of the men and 60% of the women were already deficient. After a decade, the prevalence of vitamin B2 and vitamin A deficiencies rose to 50% of the sample. Vitamin C deficiencies rose in a decade from 3% to 6% in men and from 2.3% to 4.5% in women and it was the least prevalent.

Conclusion: despite an adequate nutritional/functional status and a total energy intake that could be expected to cover the recommendations for micronutrients too, a considerable proportion of our successfully aging elderly were already deficient in, or at high risk of becoming deficient in several essential vitamins. Multivitamin supplementation may be necessary, even in healthy individuals, to ensure an adequate micronutrient intake in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Avitaminosis / diagnosis
  • Avitaminosis / epidemiology*
  • Diet / trends*
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamins