VDC test kit slider

Low vitamin D levels associated with a decline in physical function among people with chronic spinal cord injury

Posted on: June 9, 2018   by  Vitamin D Council


The human body is meant to be mobile and function without pain, but for people with spinal cord injuries, daily tasks can be much more difficult to carry out than for the average healthy person. Vitamin D has not only been shown to be a predictor of strong and healthy bones, but recent research suggests vitamin D may be involved in skeletal muscle health and function.

People who have chronic SCI (spinal cord injury) are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because of factors including increased fat mass, inadequate sunlight exposure, other illnesses and certain medications that decrease nutrient absorption.

Muscle atrophy, a common consequence of SCI, causes a decline in activities of daily living (ADL) and leisure time physical activities (LTPA). This leads to less sunlight exposure and increased fat mass, both of which lead to less vitamin D synthesis.

A recent longitudinal study looked at 67 patients with chronic SCI in a rehabilitation program. Functional independence of activities of daily living (SCIM), LTPA and 25(OH)D levels were measured at admission, and again 1 year later.

Here is what the researchers found:

  • A total of 75% of the participants were vitamin D deficient (< 20 ng/ml).
  • Baseline vitamin D levels below 18.6 ng/ml was associated with a 2.8 fold increased odds of declining SCIM scores after one year (p = 0.0003).
  • Those vitamin D levels below 18.2 ng/ml at baseline had a 2.6 fold increased odds of impaired LTPA scores after one year (p = 0.001).

The researchers concluded,

“In people with chronic SCI, a low 25(OH)D level may represent an independent predictor of worsening in physical function outcomes over time.”


Barbonetti, A. et al. Low vitamin D levels are independent predictors of 1-year worsening in physical function in people with chronic spinal cord injury: a longitudinal study. International Spinal Cord Society, 2018.

Test Your Vitamin D Levels at Home!

Our in-home vitamin D test kit is easy, affordable, and an accurate way to find out your Vitamin D status.

order NOW

We need your help!

We're spreading awareness on Vitamin D Deficiency
Donate NOW
Latest Articles
4 tips for writing an essay in English

Writing an essay in English can be a challenge, especially if you are beginning to learn the language or do not yet fully master it. But don’t worry, did you know that there are strategies that can make this task easier for you? To help you meet this challenge, we leave you a series of […]

Weekly Newsletter

Our Sponsors

December 21st is DDAY. Click here to celebrate the day with us!