Serum vitamin D metabolites and calcium absorption in normal young and elderly free-living women and in women living in nursing homes

H. Karimi Kinyamu, J. Christopher Gallagher, Kurt E. Balhorn, Kimberly M. Petranick, Karen A. Rafferty

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Vitamin D deficiency, which causes osteomalacia, may also be important in the pathogenesis of age-related osteoporosis. We studied serum vitamin D metabolites in 52 young women (mean age: 30 ± 3 y; range: 25-35 y), 64 elderly free-living women (mean age: 71 ± 4 y; range: 65-82 y) and 60 elderly women living in nursing homes (mean age: 84 ± 9 y; range: 61-102 y). Mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (calcidiol) was 10.8 ± 4.4 nmol/L (27 ± 11 ng/mL) in women living in nursing homes and was similar to that of free- living young (11.3 ± 4.2 nmol/L, or 28 ± 10 ng/mL) and elderly (11.5 ± 3.2 nmol/L, or 29 ± 8 ng/mL) women. Vitamin D deficiency (defined as serum calcidiol <4.8 nmol/L, or 12 ng/mL) occurred in 8% of women living in nursing homes, in 6% of the young women, and in 1.6% of the free-living elderly women. Serum calcidiol was significantly correlated with vitamin D intake (r = 0.25, P <0.05) and inversely correlated with serum intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) (r = -0.16, P <0.03). Serum iPTH increased with age and secondary hyperparathyroidism was observed in 17% of the women living in nursing homes. Calcium absorption declined with age, but calcium absorption and serum 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol) were significantly lower in women living in nursing homes, which probably contributed to the secondary hyperparathyroidism. In conclusion, normal serum calcidiol may avoid the problem of osteomalacia, but it does not correct malabsorption of calcium. Although calcitriol corrects the malabsorption of calcium, it remains to be seen whether higher amounts of vitamin D can normalize the calcium malabsorption of aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-797
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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