Vitamin D and body composition in the elderly

Author(s): Vitezova A, Muka T, Carola Zillikens M, Voortman T, Uitterlinden AG, et al.



To investigate the association between vitamin D status and body composition in the elderly.


This study was embedded in the Rotterdam Study, a population-based prospective study in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, including subjects aged 55 years and older. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was measured between 1997 and 1999. Total body fat, android fat, gynoid fat and lean mass were assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) during a follow-up visit after a median time of 5 years (2002–2004). We calculated body fat percentage, lean mass percentage, and android/gynoid fat ratio. We had 2158 participants included in our analysis. We used multivariable linear regression models. Serum 25(OH)D was analyzed continuously and after categorization according to cut-offs.


Mean (±SD) serum 25(OH)D concentration of the study population was 52.6 ± 25.4 nmol/L. Compared to subjects with an adequate vitamin D status (25(OH)D ≥ 75 nmol/L), vitamin D deficient participants (25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L) had a higher body fat percentage (β = 1.29, 95% CI: 0.55, 2.04) whereas no association was found with lean mass (β = 0.01, 95%CI: −0.33, 0.35). Lower 25(OH)D was associated with higher total body fat percentage specifically in participants without cardio-metabolic disease. Each 10 unit increase in serum 25(OH)D was associated with 0.03 unit decrease in android fat (β = −0.03, 95%CI: −0.06, −0.01); after adjustment for BMI the association was no longer significant. Serum 25(OH)D was also associated with the android/gynoid fat ratio but this was also mainly explained by BMI.


Lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations were associated with a higher fat mass percentage. The association between serum 25(OH)D and differential fat distribution in the elderly was mainly explained by BMI and deserves further study.

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