Introduction: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the increased risk of several chronic diseases, especially in people living in the Northern Latitudes. The aim of this study was to assess the vitamin D status in older subjects born in 1945 in Northern Finland (latitude 65°North), and to examine its associations to components of metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we invited 904 subjects born in 1945 from the Oulu region (Oulu45 cohort), out of an original cohort of 1332 subjects. In the cohort, plasma 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels were determined by an enzyme immunoassay of 263 men and 373 women, with a mean age baseline of 69±0.5 years old. We assessed the participants' usage of vitamin D supplements, as well as their lifestyle factors, using a questionnaire.
Results: Nearly 80% of the subjects had low vitamin D levels [either vitamin D deficient (<50 nmol/L) or insufficient (50 - 75 nmol/L)], and only 20% of the participants had sufficient vitamin D levels (>75 nmol/L) (based on the American Endocrine Society guidelines). The low vitamin D status was associated with a high prevalence of MetS; a significantly higher number of subjects with MetS (41%) had low vitamin D levels in comparison to the non-MetS subjects (38%) (p ≤ 0.05). The subjects under vitamin D supplementation had a significantly lower incidence of MetS (42.6% vs 57.4%) and its components in comparison to the non-supplemented subjects (p ≤ 0.05).
Conclusions: Low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for MetS amongst other lifestyle factors, such as dietary habits and physical inactivity, among older subjects in the Northern Latitudes (65°North). Optimal supplementation of vitamin D, along with rich dietary sources of vitamin D, are highly recommended for older subjects as a means to positively affect, e.g., hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity, as components of the MetS.
Keywords: 25OHD; HDL cholesterol; HOMA; LDL cholesterol; aging; blood pressure; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; vitamin D status; vitamin D supplementation.