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Walking speed is associated with vitamin D status in older adults, according to a recent study

Posted on: December 11, 2017   by  Riley Peterson & John Cannell, MD.

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When most people think of physical performance, they often think of athletic performance. It is easy to overlook physical tasks such as getting out of bed, using the restroom, walking to the kitchen to make breakfast and even getting dressed for the day. While to many of you, the difficulty of these tasks may seem negligible, they are important markers of physical performance, which becomes increasingly difficult after an injury, illness and as we age.

In fact, because poor physical functioning is associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality, it can be considered a ‘vital sign’ among elderly individuals. One of the most effective methods in which scientists and researchers evaluate physical performance and the risk of adverse effects is by measuring walking speed.

There has been much conversation about the relationship between vitamin D status and physical functioning in humans. Dr. John Cannell, Founder and Medical Director of the Vitamin D Council, has even published a book on vitamin D in athletic performance. You can check out his book here. Additionally, vitamin D status has been linked to physical function in elderly adults, which has also fueled conversation about vitamin D and fracture risk, though this topic has yielded conflicting evidence and opinions.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal, Maturitas, evaluated the association between vitamin D status and walking speed in middle aged and elderly individuals. The researchers included epidemiological studies in which vitamin D status and walking speed as an indicator of physical performance were measured in human participants. Vitamin D status was categorized by the following: 

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