February 3, 2014

253 How Vitamin D Prevents Falls [3 February 2014]

In a recent post to the Vitamin D Council website Dr. John Cannell wrote “to the best of my knowledge, all studies of daily OTC vitamin D3 in significant doses point to effective prevention of falls in the elderly”. He then refers to several examples that showed that vitamin D3:
• reduced falls by 46% in elderly women in a 2001 German study;
• with calcium reduced falls by 49% compared to calcium alone in a 2003 Swiss study;
• reduced falls by 27% and body sway by 28% in a 2009 German study of the elderly;
• at least 10 randomized controlled clinical trials have shown that daily D3 supplementation over 800 IU prevents falls while lower doses often do not.
• Meta-analyses of studies using 400 IU/day showed a range of reduction in falls from 13% to 24%; studies of 800 IU or more showed reductions above 24%.

I had assumed that vitamin D prevented falls by increasing bone strength (which it does) but was surprised to learn that it also works in other important ways:
• increases muscle fiber diameter and muscle strength (at 4,000 IU/day)
• improves balance and reduces body sway
• improves neuromuscular reaction time

These are all important factors in preventing falls, especially in the elderly. So if you are in that age bracket, or have family members who are, supplementation is critical. Then the question is how much. At least 800 IU, but is more better? The one study which showed increased muscle strength used 4,000 IU. The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU for adults including seniors (which is what I take) while most government health organizations are more cautious. If you take much more than 5,000 you should have your blood levels [25(OH)D] tested every few months. Toxicity could occur if you were to take 40,000 IU daily for several months.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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