, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 206-212
Date: 12 Sep 2011

Vitamin status in elderly people in relation to the use of nutritional supplements

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Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to evaluate the status of several vitamins and to investigate the effect of regular individual supplementation on their status in this population.

Design

An observational study.

Setting

State of Burgenland, Austria.

Participants

A total of 102 non-institutionalized subjects (49% supplementing regularly, 51% without supplementation) aged between 70–90 years were recruited.

Measurements

Plasma levels of vitamins A, D, E, K and C were determined by HPLC. The functional parameters of vitamins B1, B2 and B6, i.e. the activities of the erythrocyte enzymes transketolase, glutathione reductase and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase, were analyzed photometrically; plasma folate and vitamin B12 were determined by RIA.

Results

The status of vitamins A, E and C was generally satisfactory. Eighty-eight percent and 42% of participants were deficient in vitamins D and K, respectively, as were 29% for B6; up to 10% of participants were deficient in vitamins B1, B2, B12 and folate. A considerable percentage of participants was, however, at risk for vitamin deficiencies (vitamins B1, B6, B12, folate: 20–30%, vitamin B2: 60%). Except for vitamins A and K, regular intake of supplements had a significant positive influence on vitamin levels.

Conclusion

These results indicate that use of supplements significantly improved the status of several vitamins in elderly people. Due to age-related problems concerning the intake and digestion of nutrients, a moderate, regular supplementation might be a useful option for older people who are otherwise unable to satisfy their micronutrient requirements.