BACKGROUND: Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of falls in older adults. Several studies have demonstrated an association between vitamin D deficiency and gait and cognitive impairments, which are two risk factors for falls in the elderly. There is lack of research about the role of vitamin D in cognitive function in the context of mobility.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between vitamin D status with the age-related changes in mobility through higher order cognitive function using a dual task physical performance test.
SETTING: Community-dwelling older adult population located in Miami, Fl.
PARTICIPANTS: Healthy participants over the age of 55 (n=97) who participated in the parent interventional study.
MEASUREMENTS: Participants completed assessments that included serum levels of vitamin D, surveys, and dual task physical performance tests. Spearman's correlations, independent t-tests, repeated measures ANOVAs and multiple logistic regressions were used to examine the relationship between vitamin D insufficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D <30 ng/ml) and sufficiency (≥30 ng/ml) and dual task physical performance variables. The significance level was set at α=0.05.
RESULTS: There were no significant associations between vitamin D insufficiency and gait velocity during either task. Using Spearman correlations, slower single (P=0.011) and dual task counting rates (P=0.006) were significantly associated with vitamin D insufficiency. Independent t-tests showed dual and single task counting rates were significantly lower in the vitamin D insufficient group compared to the sufficient group (P=0.018 and P=0.028, respectively). The results for the ANOVAs indicated that velocities and counting rates were not significantly different by vitamin D status (Wilk's Lambda =0.999; F (1, 95) =.11, P=.740) (Wilk's Lambda =.999, F(1,95)=.13, P=.718). Vitamin D status was not significantly associated with dual task physical performance (defined as the difference in dual and single task) in gait velocity (OR=1.00, 95% CI: 0.98; 1.02, P=0.772) and counting rate (OR=1.684, 95% CI: 0.15; 19.57, P=0.677), when controlling for confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: Since counting backward is a mental tracking task, which is a component of executive function, our results suggest a relationship between vitamin D insufficiency and executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction has been previously associated with fall risks in the elderly, and it could be a possible mediator between vitamin D and falls. Our data suggest that cognition may play a significant role in vitamin D's influence on falls, while motor function may play a lesser role.
- dual task
- executive function
- older adult
- physical performance
- Vitamin D status
ASJC Scopus subject areas