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March 20, 1996

Vitamin D Deficiency in Homebound Elderly Persons

Author Affiliations

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Md

JAMA. 1996;275(11):838-839. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530350020023

To the Editor.  —The study by Dr Gloth and colleagues1 may be incorrectly interpreted as implying that because of outdoor exposure, nonhomebound elderly persons are not at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Reduced serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and increased parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels were detected in the homebound ill relative to the non-homebound healthy elderly individuals. It was concluded that "homebound elderly persons are likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency," imparting the impression that nonhomebound elderly individuals are not at risk because of outdoor exposure. Instead, this lack of deficiency may have been dependent on adequate vitamin D ingestion or serum sampling favoring seasons when routine outdoor exposure (ultraviolet B radiation) in Baltimore, Md, yields sufficient cutaneous vitamin D synthesis.Although vitamin D ingestion was quantified and the above serum levels studied were not significantly different by season for the homebound elderly, this information regarding the nonhomebound controls