Vitamin D may reduce falls in elderly nursing home residents

February 21, 2007

Boston - February 21, 2007 -- New research suggests that reducing the number of falls suffered by seniors in nursing homes may be helped by taking a vitamin, along with other measures known to decrease falls. According to a study in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, seniors taking a high daily dose of vitamin D experienced 72 percent fewer falls compared to those taking a placebo.

Approximately 50 percent of nursing home residents fall every year, and those who are injured become even more prone to future falls. According to study authors Kerry Broe and Douglas Kiel, "lowering the risk of falls with a simple vitamin D supplement could improve the quality of life for nursing home residents by reducing the incidence of falls."

"Past studies have shown that vitamin D could help prevent falls in seniors, and may be due to a possible strengthening effect the vitamin has on the musculoskeletal system. Until now, we didn't know what dosage amount would be effective," say Broe and Kiel. The dose that was most effective, 800 International Units per day, is higher than the dose typically prescribed to seniors. Taking this dose of vitamin D should be done only through the approval of a patient's doctor and certain conditions, such as high blood calcium levels, need to be considered by a physician.

The authors note that further research on the subject is required to accurately determine vitamin D's effect with regard to patients' current health conditions and other variables, such as ethnicity. Falls are caused by many factors and vitamin D may be only one of many methods to be discovered that reduce their incidence. Taking vitamin D only may not result in fall reductions and all preventative measures need to be considered.
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This study is published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Kerry Broe, MPH and Douglas Kiel, MD, MPH have been actively doing research in the field of osteoporosis and fracture epidemiology for over ten years. They are currently affiliated with the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research at Harvard and can be reached for questions at broe@hrca.harvard.edu and kiel@hrca.harvard.edu.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is a comprehensive and reliable source of monthly research and information about common diseases and disorders of older adults.

For more information, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com/jgs.

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit association of geriatrics health care professionals, research scientists, and other concerned individuals dedicated to improving the health, independence and quality of life of all older people.

The AGS promotes high quality, comprehensive and accessible care for America's older population, including those who are chronically ill and disabled. The organization provides leadership to health care professionals, policy makers and the public by developing, implementing and advocating programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, please visit www.americangeriatrics.org.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 medical, academic, and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and has over 6,000 books in print. The company employs over 1,000 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, and Japan and officially merged with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.'s Scientific, Technical, and Medical business in February 2007. Blackwell's mission as an expert publisher is to create long-term partnerships with our clients that enhance learning, disseminate research, and improve the quality of professional practice. For more information on Blackwell Publishing, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or www.blackwell-synergy.com.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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