Fatigue is characterized by reduced energy level, decreased muscle strength, and a variable degree of cognitive impairment. Recent evidences seem to link vitamin D deficiency to fatigue. The aim of this study was to assess and compare vitamin D status in a cohort of older subjects with and without fatigue. We recruited a total of 480 subjects, 240 patients with fatigue and 240 controls without fatigue, from the Cannizzaro Hospital of Catania (Italy). Fatigue severity was measured by the fatigue severity scale, whereas mental and physical fatigue were measured through the Wessely and Powell fatigue scale, respectively. We also measured several blood parameters and 25-OH vitamin D. Subjects with fatigue showed lower levels of vitamin D as compared with those without fatigue. Blood levels of parameters related to fatigue were normal in both groups of subjects, however, platelet, hemoglobin, hematocrit (p < 0.05), mean corpuscular volume, C-reactive protein (CRP), iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid (p < 0.001) were significantly higher in the fatigue group with respect to the control group. Moreover, compared to controls, patients showed higher scores in the physical (p < 0.001), mental (p < 0.001), and severity (p < 0.001) fatigue scales. Finally, vitamin D inversely correlated with fatigue severity (r = -0.428, p < 0.01), whereas creatine kinase and CRP levels did not correlate with vitamin D. In conclusion, our data showed a direct link between vitamin D and fatigue in older subjects, suggesting translational implications in the diagnosis and management of these patients.
Keywords: aging; mental fatigue; older; physical fatigue; sex differences; vitamin D.