According to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, low vitamin D levels are associated with poor grip strength in centenarians.
There is a well-established link between vitamin D and muscle strength. Researchers have consistently found that low vitamin D levels are associated with frailty and poor grip strength in adult to senior populations. Furthermore, some trials have found that vitamin D supplementation improves grip strength compare to placebo.
However, to date, no one has looked to see if vitamin D is still associated with grip strength in the “oldest old.” In the present study, researchers from the University of Georgia examined centenarians (seniors over the age of 100) and near centenarians (over the age of 98).
The researchers looked at a cohort of 244 centenarians and near centenarians enrolled in the Georgia Centenarian Study. They looked at their vitamin D levels and their grip strength, measured by a hand grip dynamometer.
What they found is that those with a vitamin D level over 20 ng/ml had greater grip strength than those below. When they raised this threshold, this relationship still held true. Those with a level over 32 ng/ml had greater grip strength than those below.
“Low vitamin D status was associated with poor grip strength, an indicator of physical function, in centenarians,” the researchers stated. “In a population where functional status is a concern, it is important to understand the factors associated with poor physical function in order to implement programs that may help to prevent or minimize the decline in physical function among the very old.”