Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of falls and bone fractures
This is important news for seniors: A daily dose of Vitamin D3 substantially reduces your risk of falling , researchers recently reported.
"It takes 700 to 1000 international units (IU) of Vitamin D3 per day and nothing less will work," Dr. Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, who directs the Center on Aging and Mobility at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, reported.
Those recommendations - which are higher than those of the U.S. Institute of Medicine -- are based on the results of eight studies that looked at Vitamin D3 supplements for fall prevention among more than 2,400 adults aged 65 and older. Falls were not notably reduced with daily doses of vitamin D3 lower than 700 IU.
Dr. Bischoff-Ferrari conduced a meta analysis of eight previously published studies, which was published in the British Medical Journal in early October, 2009. This added weight to several other studies which have shown that Vitamin D3 improves strength, balance and bone health in the elderly, the researchers note.
Each year, one in three people aged 65 and older, and one in two aged 50 and older, fall at least once. Nine percent of these mishaps require a trip to the emergency room and around six percent result in a fracture. Many elderly people who fall end up in nursing homes.
"Falls are important events to prevent," Bischoff-Ferrari said, "and 700 to 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day is safe and inexpensive," but it's higher than the currently recommended by the Institute of Medicine for older adults. (The Institute recommends 400 IU per day for adults between age 51 and 70, and 600 IU per day for those aged 70 years and over.) Vitamin D3 experts currently recommend between 2000 and 5000IU per day.
The current findings, Bischoff-Ferrari said, provide an argument to revise the recommendations. The reserachers looked at two forms of the vitamin: Vitamin D3 which is more readily absorbed by the body and more potent than vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol. Vitamin D3 seemed more potent than D2 the researchers found.
"At the higher dose of 700 to 1000 IU Vitamin D, the benefit on fall prevention is significant -- at least 19 % with D2 and 26 % with vitamin D3," Bischoff-Ferrari said. Patients taking the higher doses of Vitamin D3 were found to have blood levels of 24 ng/ml or more. (Experts now recommend that an optimal level is >50ng/ml)
Moreover, the effect of 700 to 1000 IU vitamin D3 daily takes effect within a few months and is sustained over years, and the benefit is independent of age and present in those living at home and those living in nursing homes," Bischoff-Ferrari noted.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal, online October 2, 2009.