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Low vitamin D levels increase death risk in elderly

Posted on: March 9, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


Austrian researchers found low vitamin D levels, common among elderly women living in nursing homes, may increase the risk of dying over a 2 year period.

The study included 961 relatively healthy, mobile women over the age of 70 living in 95 nursing homes in Austria. Serum vitamin D samples were collected in February and March, with a median 25(OH)D level of 17.4 nmol/L.

The authors found that women with a mean deficiency of 14 nmol/L serum vitamin D or less, were 49% more likely to die over a period of 2 years than those with the highest levels. These results were significant after controlling for age, body mass index, heart disease status, mobility status, among other factors.

Only 7% of the participants had vitamin D serum levels above 50 nmol/L. The authors call for action based on these alarmingly low vitamin D levels:

“These data underscore the urgent need for effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency, in particular in the setting of nursing homes.”

The authors pointed out that the results were only significant when comparing the top and bottom quartiles, possibly because of the generally low levels across all groups.

The researchers suggest that further research provides a control group with adequate vitamin D levels, which would possibly show increased significance between vitamin D and mortality.


Pilz S, et al. Low 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Is Associated with Increased Mortality in Female Nursing Home Residents. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Feb 2012.

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