Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D-deficiency in frail older hospitalized patients

BMC Geriatr. 2018 Sep 20;18(1):219. doi: 10.1186/s12877-018-0919-8.


Background: Vitamin D deficiency is known to be highly prevalent in older persons. However, the prevalence in the subgroup of frail older hospitalized patients is not clear. We sought to investigate the prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in frail older hospitalized patients.

Methods: 217 consecutively geriatric hospitalized patients with routine measurements of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25 (OH)D] at hospital admission were analyzed retrospectively, including information of previous vitamin D supplementation and the geriatric assessment. Serum 25 (OH)D concentrations < 20 ng/ml and between 20 and 29.99 ng/ml were classified as deficient and insufficient, respectively, whereas concentrations ≥30 ng/ml were considered as desirable. A stepwise binary logistic regression model was performed to assess the simultaneous effects of age, gender and geriatric assessments on the prevalence of low vitamin D concentration.

Results: Mean age of the cohort was 81.6 ± 8.0 years (70.0% females). Mean serum 25(OH)D was 12.7 ± 12.9 ng/ml. Of 167 (77%) subjects without known previous vitamin D supplementation, only 21 (12.6%) had serum concentrations ≥20 ng/ml and only 8 (4.2%) had desirable serum concentrations ≥30 ng/ml. In total population, 146 (87.4%) participants were vitamin D deficient. Despite vitamin D supplementation, 22 of 50 participants (44.0%) were vitamin D deficient and only 19 (38.0%) had desirable concentrations of ≥30 ng/ml. In a stepwise logistic regression analysis, only previous intake of vitamin D supplementation and high Geriatric Depression Scale score (GDS-15) were significantly associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Conclusions: In the group of frail older hospitalized patients without previous vitamin D supplementation, the prevalence of inadequate vitamin D concentrations is extremely high. Therefore, usefulness of the routine measurement of vitamin D status before initiating of supplementation appears to be questionable in this patient group.

Keywords: Falls; Frail; Geriatric; Older; Vitamin D deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Hospitalization / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D