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 Research Points to Risk of ADL Troubles from Low Vitamin D, Muscle Weakness

Middle-aged and older individuals who display muscle weakness and/or have a combination of muscle weakness and low vitamin D levels run an increased risk of not being able to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, toileting, and dressing, according to a study in JAMDA, the journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Losing the ability to perform ADLs often leads to admission into a skilled nursing or other long term or post-acute care setting, research authors said.

In “Combined Effect of Dynapenia (Muscle Weakness) and Low Vitamin D Status on Incident Disability,” researchers examined 4,630 community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older (average age 66 years) without ADL disability at baseline.

Following a two-year study time frame, the authors found that older adults with muscle weakness only and those with lower serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had higher incidence of ADL disability risk compared with non-dynapenic adults and those with normal vitamin D levels.

“Our findings, along with other recent evidence showing the importance of vitamin D and muscle strength on multiple health outcomes, draw attention to the combined effect of these conditions on incident disability among older adults,” the researchers said.

Authors of the study are researchers at the State University of Campinas in Brazil, the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University College London in the United Kingdom, and the Departments of Gerontology and Physical Therapy at the Federal University of Sao Carlos in Brazil.

Researchers said the fact they formed a large, nationally representative sample of community-dwelling English adults aged 50 years and older is a major strength of the study given its large sample size. But, the limitation on the study is that ADL disability is a self-reported measure, which leaves many cases unreported and harder to gauge.

“Nonetheless, the instruments in the study are common in international disability investigations, and standardized protocols were used to ensure data quality,” the researchers said.

The authors also said to the best of their knowledge, the new study is the first to analyze the combined effect of muscle weakness and low vitamin D levels and incidences of ADL disability.

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