Investigating the links between muscle strength, sun exposure, dietary vitamin D intake and the vitamin D status of ambulatory older adults in South East Queensland

Borradale, David (2008) Investigating the links between muscle strength, sun exposure, dietary vitamin D intake and the vitamin D status of ambulatory older adults in South East Queensland. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are now seen as a contemporary health problem in Australia with possible widespread health effects not limited to bone health1. Despite this, the Vitamin D status (measured as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)) of ambulatory adults has been overlooked in this country. Serum 25(OH)D status is especially important among this group as studies have shown a link between Vitamin D and fall risk in older adults2. Limited data also exists on the contributions of sun exposure via ultraviolet radiation and dietary intake to serum 25(OH)D status in this population. The aims of this project were to assess the serum 25(OH)D status of a group of older ambulatory adults in South East Queensland, to assess the association between their serum 25(OH)D status and functional measures as possible indicators of fall risk, obtain data on the sources of Vitamin D in this population and assess whether this intake was related to serum 25(OH)D status and describe sun protection and exposure behaviors in this group and investigate whether a relationship existed between these and serum 25(OH)D status. The collection of this data assists in addressing key gaps identified in the literature with regard to this population group and their Vitamin D status in Australia. A representative convenience sample of participants (N=47) over 55 years of age was recruited for this cross-sectional, exploratory study which was undertaken in December 2007 in south-east Queensland (Brisbane and Sunshine coast). Participants were required to complete a sun exposure questionnaire in addition to a Calcium and Vitamin D food frequency questionnaire. Timed up and go and handgrip dynamometry tests were used to examine functional capacity. Serum 25(OH)D status and blood measures of Calcium, Phosphorus and Albumin were determined through blood tests. The Mean and Median serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) for all participants in this study was 85.8nmol/L (Standard Deviation 29.7nmol/L) and 81.0nmol/L (Range 22-158nmol/L), respectively. Analysis at the bivariate level revealed a statistically significant relationship between serum 25(OH)D status and location, with participants living on the Sunshine Coast having a mean serum 25(OH)D status 21.3nmol/L higher than participants living in Brisbane (p=0.014). While at the descriptive level there was an apparent trend towards higher outdoor exposure and increasing levels of serum 25(OH)D, no statistically significant associations between the sun measures of outdoor exposure, sun protection behaviors and phenotypic characteristics and serum 25(OH)D status were observed. Intake of both Calcium and Vitamin D was low in this sample with sixty-eight (68%) of participants not meeting the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) for Calcium (Median=771.0mg; Range=218.0-2616.0mg), while eighty-seven (87%) did not meet the Adequate Intake for Vitamin D (Median=4.46ug; Range=0.13-30.0ug). This raises the question of how realistic meeting the new Adequate Intakes for Vitamin D is, when there is such a low level of Vitamin D fortification in this country. However, participants meeting the Adequate Intake (AI) for Vitamin D were observed to have a significantly higher serum 25(OH)D status compared to those not meeting the AI for Vitamin D (p=0.036), showing that meeting the AI for Vitamin D may play a significant role in determining Vitamin D status in this population. By stratifying our data by categories of outdoor exposure time, a trend was observed between increased importance of Vitamin D dietary intake as a possible determinant of serum 25(OH)D status in participants with lower outdoor exposures. While a trend towards higher Timed Up and Go scores in participants with higher 25(OH) D status was seen, this was only significant for females (p=0.014). Handgrip strength showed statistically significant association with serum 25(OH)D status. The high serum 25(OH)D status in our sample almost certainly explains the limited relationship between functional measures and serum 25(OH)D. However, the observation of an association between slower Time Up and Go speeds, and lower serum 25(OH)D levels, even with a small sample size, is significant as slower Timed Up and Go speeds have been associated with increased fall risk in older adults3. Multivariable regression analysis revealed Location as the only significant determinant of serum 25(OH)D status at p=0.014, with trends (p=>0.1) for higher serum 25(OH)D being shown for participants that met the AI for Vitamin D and rated themselves as having a higher health status. The results of this exploratory study show that 93.6% of participants had adequate 25(OH)D status-possibly due to measurement being taken in the summer season and the convenience nature of the sample. However, many participants do not meet their dietary Calcium and Vitamin D requirements, which may indicate inadequate intake of these nutrients in older Australians and a higher risk of osteoporosis. The relationship between serum 25(OH)D and functional measures in this population also requires further study, especially in older adults displaying Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency.

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ID Code: 26359
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Kimlin, Michael G.
Keywords: vitamin D, serum 25-hydroxyviatmin D (25(OH)D), calcium, muscle strength, functional measures, handgrip strength, timed up and go test, food frequency questionnaire, sun exposure questionnaire
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Jul 2009 04:49
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:41

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