Friday, March 9, 2012. A study of nursing home residents described in an article scheduled for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reveals a link between being deficient in vitamin D and having a greater risk of dying over more than two years of follow up. While reduced vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of premature mortality in the general population, the association in an institutionalized population has not been well explored.
The study included 961 nursing home residents residing in Austria whose age was greater than 70 years. Participants' serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels averaged 17.5 nanomoles per liter, and 92.8 percent of the subjects had levels lower than the recommended 50 nanomoles per liter.
"Our findings show that the vast majority of nursing home residents are severely vitamin D deficient and those with the lowest vitamin D levels are at high risk of mortality," commented lead author Stefan Pilz, MD, of the Medical University of Graz, Austria.
"Vitamin D supplementation in these patients can exert significant benefits on clinically relevant outcomes such as fractures," he added. "In light of our findings, and the existing literature on adverse effects of vitamin D deficiency, there exists now an urgent need for effective strategies to improve vitamin D status in older institutionalized patients."