Elderly people are prone to develop vitamin D deficiency because of various factors such as
decreased dietary intake, diminished sunlight exposure, reduced skin thickness, impaired intestinal absorption, and impaired liver and kidney functions.
An inadequate vitamin D status is commonly seen in elderly people and has a direct impact on bone metabolism. Vitamin D deficiency in elderly also leads to muscle weakness which affects functional mobility, and puts an elderly person at increased risk of falling and getting fractured. Muscle weakness due to vitamin D deficiency is manifested by a feeling of heaviness in the legs, tiring easily, and difficulty in mounting stairs and rising from a chair; the deficiency is reversible with regular supplementation of Vitamin D.
People with symptoms of hypothyroidism, non-specific musculoskeletal pain, chronic low back pain, or fibromyalgia are frequently found to have low vitamin D levels and may show clinical improvement after supplementation. Vitamin D screening is strongly recommended in people who have chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Recently, research has shown that vitamin D is important in protecting the body from a wide range of diseases especially in elderly population. Disorders linked with vitamin D deficiency include stroke, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, several forms of cancer, some autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, depression and schizophrenia.
In addition to the established long term benefits of vitamin D, studies also show the short term benefit of adding dietary vitamin D is to reduce the incidences of colds and flu.
Daily supplementation of Vitamin-D is recommended for all adults and especially in the elderly. The dosage depends upon age, latitude, season, skin type, body weight, sun exposure, and preexisting 25(OH)D levels.