Intake of medication and vitamin status in the elderly

Author(s): Fabian E, Bogner M, Kickinger A, Wagner KH, Elmadfa I


Background/aims: An inadequate vitamin status is associated with higher morbidity and frailty in the elderly and might be due to medication. This study aimed to evaluate the status of several vitamins in relation to regular intake of medication in this population.

Methods: A total of 102 non-institutionalized subjects aged 70-90 years were recruited. Plasma levels of vitamins A, D, E, K and C were determined by HPLC. The functional parameters of vitamins B(1), B(2) and B(6), i.e. the activities of the erythrocyte enzymes transketolase, glutathione reductase and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase were analyzed photometrically; plasma folate and vitamin B(12) 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% in B(6); up to 10% were deficient in vitamins B(1), B(2), B(12) and folate. A considerable percentage of participants was, however, at risk for vitamin deficiencies (vitamins B(1), B(6), B(12) and folate: 20-30%; vitamin B(2): 60%). Regular intake of maximally 2 drugs per day was not adversely related to the status of several vitamins; intake of ≥ 3 drugs per day was significantly negatively associated with the status of vitamins D, K, B(6) and folate.

Conclusion: Daily intake of ≥ 3 drugs was found to be adversely associated with the status of some vitamins in the elderly. Hence, the medication schedule and nutritional status of these subjects should be monitored closely to ensure that the daily micronutrient requirement is fulfilled.

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