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Recent developments in vitamin D deficiency and muscle weakness among elderly people

Elderly people's liability to falls and fractures is increased by many factors, including visual impairment, neurological disorders, orthopaedic disabilities, and drug effects. In one study showing that more than a third of people aged over 65 fell each year, the main risk factor was muscle weakness.1 Poor muscle strength and weakness may be associated with vitamin D deficiency, which is common among elderly people2 because the capacity of the skin to synthesise the provitamin calcidiol (25-hydroxycholecalciferol) decreases with age.

Serious deficiency of vitamin D is common among elderly housebound people in old people's homes, nursing homes, and long stay wards and has been identified as an important public health problem.2-5 In this review I discuss recent developments in screening and treating vitamin D deficiency among elderly housebound people aimed at reducing the incidence of falls and fractures.