~ Vitamin D Supplements Help Prevent Falls


JAMA meta-analysis finds vitamin D supplements help prevent falls A meta-analysis published in the April 28 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (http://jama.ama-assn.org/) found that taking vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of falls in older people.

Falls are the largest single cause of death from injury in older people and account for 40 percent of all nursing home admissions. Costs from fall-related injuries are projected to increase to 32.4 billion dollars by the year 2020.

The authors examined five double-blind randomized clinical trials that assessed the effect of any type of vitamin D on falls among individuals aged 60 and older. The primary analysis included 1,237 people with a mean age of 70 years, of whom 81 percent were women. Vitamin D intake ranged from 400 international units (iu) to 800 iu, or an active vitamin D analogue was administered.

Analysis of the data from the five studies showed that taking vitamin D supplements was associated with a 22 percent reduction in the risk of falling compared with subjects who received calcium or a placebo. When the studies were examined separately, two of them found that 400 iu vitamin D did not significantly reduce fracture risk, and one found that it did not prevent falls, suggesting that a higher dose is more effective.

The authors conclude that "given the . . . high morbidity, mortality, and economic cost of falls, our results are sufficiently compelling to consider vitamin D supplementation for elderly individuals."

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