Studies connect Vitamin D and falling prevention

Category: Blog

Vitamin D and falling prevention. It is becoming clear that vitamin D is beneficial in helping to prevent falls from loss of balance and mobility limitations in older adults.

Supplemental vitamin D in a dose of 700-1000 IU a day reduced the risk of falling among older individuals by 19% and to a similar degree as active forms of vitamin D. Doses of supplemental vitamin D of less than 700 IU or serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of less than 60 nmol/l may not reduce the risk of falling among older individuals.” 1

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center also suggested older adults get more vitamin D. They published a study in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, in which they analyzed the association between low levels of vitamin D and onset of mobility limitation and disability over six years of follow-up using data from the National Institute on Aging’s Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. Mobility limitation and disability are defined as any difficulty or inability to walk several blocks or climb a flight of stairs, respectively. 2

In another study, correcting low levels of vitamin D was seen as a potential means of reducing falls and increasing mobility in the elderly. The research appearing in The Journals of Gerontology said “Low 25(OH) D was associated with an increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in community-dwelling, initially well-functioning black and white older adults. Prevention or treatment of low 25(OH)D may provide a pathway for reducing the burden of mobility disability in older adults.”3

Further, “Along with aging, the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin declines with insufficient sunlight exposure, leading to vitamin D deficiency. In the elderly, vitamin D deficiency results not only in impaired bone mineralization, but also myopathy.

Low vitamin D has also been shown to be associated with

  • decline of muscle strength, sarcopenia, functional limitation, and disability. 

Several recent studies have shown that low serum vitamin D concentration is associated with lower physical function and falls in older adults.”4

1. H  A Bischoff-Ferrari, et al. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3692 (Published 1 October 2009)

2. Older Adults May Need More Vitamin D to Prevent Mobility Difficulties Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center May 29, 2012

3. Houston DK, Neiberg RH, Tooze JA, et al. Low 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Predicts the Onset of Mobility Limitation and Disability in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: The Health ABC Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 May 9. [Epub ahead of print]

4. Suzuki T. [Frontiers in vitamin D; basic research and clinical application. Vitamin D and falls]. Clin Calcium. 2011 Nov;21(11):71-9.