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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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"Vitamin D Status Predicts Physical Performance And Its Decline In Older Persons," Wicherts IS, vanSchoor NM, et al, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, 2007; 92(6): 2058-2065

This study looked at 1,234 subjects aged 65 years and older. Low levels of serum 25(OH)D (Vitamin D) were found to be associated with a decline in physical performance.

After accounting for several variables-age, gender, chronic diseases, degree of urbanization, body mass index, and alcohol consumption-serum 25(OH)D was found to be associated with physical performance. Those whose Vitamin D levels were below 10 ng/ml and those with levels between 10 and 20 ng/ml were found to have significantly poorer physical performance, and a greater likelihood for a 3-year decline in physical performance, compared to subjects with Vitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/ml.

The authors concluded, "Because almost 50% of the population had serum 25(OH)D below 20 ng/ml, public health strategies should be aimed at this group." In other words, this is critically important, doctors and other health workers should start paying attention to this. However, I've found that this is seldom the case.

Does this mean that everyone over the age of 50 should take Vitamin D? I think it's very important to be tested first. If you can, get your doc to order a serum 25(OH)D (or serum hydroxy Vitamin D) test.  In my experience it is absolutely essential to write down the name of the test and make sure that your doctor knows what you want. Many of my patients have had the wrong test done, even when they have written down the name.

It's not easy to have this test done in Pennsylvania. You need a doctor's order and even with medical necessity it can be difficult to get. It's too bad that other sates are more enlightened. Back in April I visited my son Skylar in Boulder, CO. I was able to walk into Boulder Community Hospital as a 'self-pay' patient, and order a Vitamin D test (at a discount for being self pay). My result was 24 ng/ml. Optimum levels are 40-60 ng/ml. So, for the first time in probably 15-20 years I'm taking a nutritional supplement. I plan on having a repeat test done the next time I go to Boulder. I'll let you know how it goes.


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