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Hypothesis – Gait speed and mental health both poor if low vitamin D – April 2015

Vitamin D and gait speed – Letter to Editor

V. Binay Safer, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research and Training Hospital, 6230 Ankara, Turkey
I. Tasci, Department of Internal Medicine, Gulhane School of Medicine, 06018 Ankara, Turkey
U. Cintosun, U. Safer usafer at gata.edu.tr, Department of Geriatrics, Gulhane School of Medicine, 06018 Ankara, Turkey
Available online 6 November 2014

Dear Editor,

Gait speed is a quick, inexpensive and reliable measure of functional capacity in the elderly, and, when reduced, predicts health-related outcomes such as poor quality of life, physical and cognitive functional decline, falls, nursing home admissions, hospitalizations, and mortality [1]. In this context, we wish to focus on the article by D’Aliesio et al. [2] which reported a relationship between gait speed and mental health in community dwelling, physically active elderly subjects. Conclusively, the authors indicated gait speed as an indicator of mental functions, which, however, might not be a common sense among the readers of the journal. Because, gait speed is easily affected by secondary causes in the elderly, including vitamin D deficiency [3] that was reported as a specifically common condition in Italy where the study by D’Aliesio et al. was conducted and linked to various causes including skin pigmentation and sun-protection behaviors [4]. Sun avoid behaviors are also more common among depressive subjects who are likely to have lower mental scores than healthy individuals [5]. As the study by D’Aliesio et al. did not report any data regarding vitamin D levels of their participants, it is unclear whether such a confounder has influenced the study outcomes. Because hypovitaminosis D was hypothesized to be associated with worse outcome on cognitive functions [6], the central cause of suboptimal mental functions in the study by D’Aliesio et al. might be low vitamin D levels leading to both gait impairment and cognitive failure.


  • [1] N.M. Peel, S.S. Kuys, K. Klein, Gait speed as a measure in geriatric assessment in clinical settings: a systematic review. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 68 (1) (2013), pp. 39–46, View Record in Scopus | Full Text via CrossRef | Citing articles (14)
  • [2] F. D’Aliesio, D. Marandola, G. Capelli, B. Federico, Correlates of gait speed in a sample of physically active elderly, Eur Geriatr Med, 5 (2014), pp. 82–86, Article | PDF (721 K) | View Record in Scopus
  • [3] J. Kositsawat, L.C. Barry, G.A. Kuchel, C-reactive protein, vitamin D deficiency, and slow gait speed, J Am Geriatr Soc, 61 (9) (2013), pp. 1574–1579, View Record in Scopus | Full Text via CrossRef | Citing articles (3)
  • [4] N.M. van Schoor, P. Lips, Worldwide vitamin D status, Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab, 25 (4) (2011), pp. 671–680, Article | PDF (647 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (92)
  • [5] G. Vilagut, C.G. Forero, A. Pinto-Meza, J.M. Haro, R. de Graaf, R. Bruffaerts, et al.,The mental component of the short-form 12 health survey (SF-12) as a measure of depressive disorders in the general population: results with three alternative scoring methods, Value Health, 16 (4) (2013), pp. 564–573, Article | PDF (661 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (4)
  • [6] J. van der Schaft, H.L. Koek, E. Dijkstra, H.J. Verhaar, Y.T. van der Schouw, M.H. Emmelot-Vonk, The association between vitamin D and cognition: a systematic review, Ageing Res Rev, 12 (4) (2013), pp. 1013–1023, Article | PDF (759 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (10)

See also VitaminDWiki

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