Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Adriana Campa

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Fatma G. Huffman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Juan P. Liuzzi

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Tan Li

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

John E. Lewis

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Vitamin D, elderly, physical performance, cardiometabolic risk

Date of Defense



Examining factors that affect vitamin D status in the fast-growing elderly population of Miami-Dade, Florida, is needed. Vitamin D deficiency in older adults has been linked to correlates of disability, including falls and fractures, and cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of vitamin D insufficient individuals and their relationship with vitamin D insufficiency in older adults (n=97) living in Miami-Dade. We evaluated the association between vitamin D status and 1) dual task physical performance to understand the link between vitamin D and cognition in the context of mobility; and 2) cardiometabolic risk, measured by galvanic skin response, pulse oximetry, and blood pressure to create a composite score based on autonomic nervous system and endothelial function. Participants completed baseline assessments that included serum levels of vitamin D, anthropometrics, body composition, dual task physical performance and cardiometabolic risk. Surveys to evaluate vitamin D intake, sun exposure, physical activity, and depressive symptoms were completed. Spearman’s correlations, independent t-tests, paired t-tests, repeated measures ANOVAs, and multiple logistic and linear regressions were used to examine the relationship of vitamin D insufficiency (25(OH)D /ml) and sufficiency (25(OH)D ≥30 ng/ml) with determinants of vitamin D status, dual task physical performance variables and cardiometabolic risk scores. Although the proportion of vitamin D insufficient individuals was lower when compared to the prevalance of the general United States elderly population, it was still common in healthy community-dwelling older adults living in Miami-Dade County, especially among Hispanics. Factors that affected skin synthesis (ethnicity, and sun exposure), and bioavailability/metabolism (obesity) were significant predictors of vitamin D status. Vitamin D insufficiency was not significantly correlated with worse dual task physical performance; however, cognitive performance was worse in the vitamin D insufficient group. Our results suggest a relationship of vitamin D insufficiency with executive dysfunction, and support an association with cardiometabolic risk using an innovative electro-sensor complex, possibly by modulating autonomic nervous system activity and vascular function, thus affecting cardiac performance.





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