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Vitamin D may not reduce risk of falls among elderly, study says


A new study conducted by researchers from University Hospital Zurich suggests that high doses of Vitamin D do not improve the muscle strength in the lower extremities of people aged 70 and above, HNGN reports.

On the contrary, the study says, it increases their risk for falls.

The study was published online Jan. 4 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, and coauthors conducted the one-year, randomized clinical trial that included 200 men and women 70 or older with a prior fall, reported the press release.

High doses of Vitamin D are often recommended to old people to reduce their risk of falling due to weak muscles. 

However, this recommendation is not supported by sufficient data.

For the study, the researchers recruited 200 study participants, both men and women aged 70 or older, who have had previous falling problems. Fifty-eight percent of the participants were vitamin D deficient when the study commenced.

The researchers divided the participants into three groups. The first group was given a monthly dose of 24,000 IU vitamin D3 and served as control, while the second group was given a monthly dose of 60,000 IU vitamin D3. The third group was given a monthly dose of 24,000 IU vitamin D3 coupled with calcifediol.

At the end of one year, the researchers found that those who were given 60,000 IU vitamin D3 and 24,000 IU vitamin D3 plus calcifediol did not have better leg function. Also, people from both these groups experienced falling.

"Compared with a monthly standard-of-care dose of 24,000 IU of vitamin D3, two monthly higher doses of vitamin D (60,000 IU and 24,000 IU plus calcifediol) conferred no benefit on the prevention of functional decline and increased falls in seniors 70 years and older with a prior fall event," the researchers wrote.

The researchers noted that 66.9 percent from the vitamin D3 group and 66.1 percent from the vitamin D3 and calcifediol combination group fell, while only 47.9 percent from the control group fell.

"The strategy of supplementation with vitamin D to achieve serum levels of at least 30 ng/mL has not been established by RCTs [randomized clinical trials] to reduce the risk of falls and fractures. It may increase the risk of falling," a group of researchers wrote.

In an accompanying editorial, Steven R Cummings, MD, of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, and colleagues say that, "it is uncertain whether any dose of vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of falls or fractures in community-dwelling older adults."

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