A study was conducted in mid-October to determine if vitamin D, vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9) had effects on muscle strength, walking/standing gait, and history of falling in 56 patients over 65 years old with type 2 diabetes. The study states that “old age and diabetes mellitus are risk factors for vitamin deficiencies, weakness and falls.”
The scientists found that 43% of these people were deficient in vitamin B12, 20% were deficient in folate, and 25% were deficient in vitamin D (levels of vitamins in circulating blood). To find out if strength was affected by this, corresponding hand-grip and leg/quadriceps strength measurements were taken (Leg strength is directly shown to influence walking/standing gait and history of falls, and hand strength influences the ability to hold on for support.)
Previous studies show that deficiencies of vitamin D, and possibly vitamin B12 and folate contribute to sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue during aging). These researchers concluded though that level of folate particularly affected the person’s grip and leg strength (no matter what their body size) and was substantially associated with history of falls. They feel their findings of the physical effects of vitamin deficiencies could help to guide public health policy to increase vitamin supplementation at least for those with diabetes.
(Andrew Kien Han Wee, “Serum folate predicts muscle strength: study of association between serum vitamin levels and muscle strength/gait measures in patients over 65 with diabetes mellitus”, Nutrition Journal, 201615:89, October 18, 2016, Singapore)