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50+: Live Better, Longer

Vitamin D May Cut Elders' Falls

Fewer Falls Seen in Elderly Taking High Vitamin D Dose
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Vitamin D Supplements

Participants were randomly assigned to take vitamin D or an empty pill (placebo) for five months.

Those taking vitamin D were given one of four daily doses: 200 international units (IU), 400 IU, 600 IU, or 800 IU.

No one knew what dose they were taking, or whether they were taking the placebo.

Participants were allowed to keep taking multivitamins during the study, if they wanted to, but the researchers didn't supply anyone with multivitamins.

Currently, the Institute of Medicine says 600 IU of vitamin D per day is "adequate" for men and women 71 or older.

 

Residents' Falls

The nursing home was required to keep records of residents' falls. During the five-month study, 61 participants (59%) suffered falls.

The group taking 800 IU of vitamin D daily was the only one to show a reduced fall risk. They were 72% less likely to fall during the study period than those taking the placebo.

None of the other vitamin D doses were associated with reduced falls.

These results held when the researchers took age, BMI (body mass index), and other factors into account.

People can fall for many reasons; and it's not certain vitamin D was the sole reason for the drop in falls for residents taking 800 IU of vitamin D daily.

While the data doesn't show how much vitamin D participants got from their diet or sunshine, intake from those sources was probably "minimal," write the researchers.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Vitamin D is one vitamin you shouldn't overdo. The body stores vitamin D in fat, and it can be unhealthy to let too much of the vitamin build up in the body.

The tolerable upper limit for daily vitamin D intake is 2,000 IU for adults 19 and older, according to Institute of Medicine standards.

Sunshine and diet are much less likely to cause excessive vitamin D levels than supplements, unless you're consuming lots of cod liver oil, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, part of the National Institutes of Health.

None of the nursing home residents had excessive vitamin D levels during the study.

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