ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers Study Discovers Nutritional Deficiencies in Pantries of Homebound Adults

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences study found that older homebound adults who live alone and receive delivered meals daily may otherwise lack reserves of foods rich in vitamin D. The study, which involved interviewing participants and inventorying their pantries, revealed that at 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), participants would exhaust their supply of vitamin D within an average of ten days.

The ideal amount of vitamin D intake is not yet known; however, studies have linked low blood concentration of vitamin D with conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, obesity, depression, and declining cognitive function. While it remains unclear whether treating low levels of vitamin D will prevent or treat these conditions, mounting evidence suggests that a correlation may exist between the nutrient and these ailments. For older adults, especially, nutrition plays a key role in maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D.

The study, led by Rutgers School of Public Health alum, Dr. Nancy Lashway, found that participants had an average of a ten-day supply of vitamin D at 100 percent of the RDA. Participants also indicated that it would be an average of nearly nine days before they or someone on their behalf would be able to get groceries. At these rates, nearly half of the participants would fully exhaust their vitamin D stores or would have less than a one-day reserve before replenishing their pantries.

“Vitamin D can be found in a variety of readily available sources, including milk, fish and shellfish, eggs and egg substitutes, ready-to-eat cereals, and spreads,” said Dr. Lashway. According to senior author and Rutgers School of Public Health and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences professor, Dr. Mark Robson, “increasing the availability of such items to people whom otherwise may not have the means maintain their pantries could help limit other health issues associated with aging, like cognitive decline, falls, and skeletal strength.”

This study was part of a larger research effort led by Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences faculty Dr. William Hallman and Dr. Carol Byrd-Bredbenner.

Vitamin D in Household Food Supplies of Homebound Older Adults Receiving Home-Delivered Meals” recently appeared in the October – December 2017 edition of Topics in Clinical Nutrition.