No relation between vitamin D status and physical performance in the oldest old: results from the Belfrail study

Age Ageing. 2013 Mar;42(2):186-90. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afs186. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


Background: vitamin D deficiency is a well-known cause of bone loss and fractures but its association, especially among the oldest old, with muscle weakness is less obvious.

Objective: to investigate the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and muscle performance in persons aged 80 years and older.

Methods: baseline results of the Belfrail study, a prospective, population-based cohort study were used to study balance, grip strength and gait speed in relation to 25-OHD serum levels in 367 subjects.

Results: a sufficient 25-OHD serum level of 30 ng/ml or more was found in 12.8% of the population. The prevalence of vitamin deficiency (20-29 ng/ml), insufficiency (10-19 ng/ml) and severe insufficiency (<10 ng/ml) was 21.5, 33 and 32.7%, respectively. No significant relation between balance, gait speed and grip strength, and serum 25-OHD was detected neither in bivariate analysis nor after adjustment for age, gender, level of education, institutionalisation, smoking status, body mass index, co-morbidity, level of activity, season, CRP, renal function, serum calcium parathyroid hormone levels, vitamin D intake and use of loop or thiazide diuretics.

Conclusion: in this cohort of octogenarians vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent. We could not confirm the findings of previous studies showing an association between serum 25-OHD and physical performance in elderly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Physical Examination
  • Postural Balance
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D