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Review: Vitamin D and exercise may reduce risk of falls in elderly

Posted on: May 30, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council

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The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) reviewed current research and found vitamin D and regular exercise may prevent falls among older adults.

Falls among older adults

Falls are the most common cause of injury and hospital admissions for trauma in the elderly population. The CDC reports that 20-30% of older adults who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, fractures, or even traumatic brain injuries. The death rates from falls for older men and women have increased greatly over the past 10 years.

Research

The USPSTF reviewed 50 clinical trials looking into the best methods to prevent falls in adults ages 65 and older in a community setting. They found that those who engage in exercise or regular physical therapy and supplement with vitamin D reduce their risk of falling, most likely due to increased muscle strength and balance. Nine trials focused specifically on vitamin D supplementation, with a 17% reduced risk of falls. The task force reviewed 50 trials looking at the relationship between exercise or physical therapy and risk of falls, they found a 13% reduction in risk of falls.

Previous research supports the USPSTF recommendation. One study found women in the US with a vitamin D level of 19ng/mL had a 70% increase in fractures when compared to women with vitamin D levels of 28ng/mL. An Australian study found fall and fracture rates had a seasonal cycle, with increasing rates of hip and wrist fractures during the end of winter.

Recommendations

As stated above, the USPSTF recommends supplementing with vitamin D as well as engaging in physical activity. Although the report does not make any specific recommendations regarding vitamin D dosage, the Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000IU/day to optimize bone health and strength, and to help reduce your risk of falling.

Sources:

Preventing falls in older adults who live in community settings: US Preventative Services Task Force. Annals of Internal Medicine. May 2012.

Center for Disease Control

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