The number of individuals aged 65 and older is expected to more than double from 2012 to 2060. The role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with aging has not been well studied. Traditionally, the role of vitamin D focused on the maintenance of skeletal health in the older adult. With the discovery of vitamin D receptors in the nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, the role of vitamin D and its impact on these systems has become an important area of research. Older adults are at risk for lower levels of vitamin D as a result of decreased cutaneous synthesis and dietary intake of vitamin D. Epidemiologic evidence indicates an association between low levels of vitamin D and diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Clinical trials to determine the benefit of vitamin D supplementation in preventing and treating such diseases are in progress. This paper highlights current evidence regarding the role that vitamin D may play in diseases associated with aging and addresses the need for well-designed randomized trials to examine its benefit on health outcomes in the older adult.
Keywords: Aging; older adult; vitamin D.