Vitamin D and Falls

By Dr. Allen S. Josephs – Thursday, January 28, 2010

When it comes to the health of aging adults, certain nutrients and foods may be helpful, especially vitamin D.

A recent article showed that vitamin D appears to reduce the risk of falls in older people living in nursing facilities(1). Forty-one clinical trials involving over 25,000 elderly people (mostly women) were reviewed. In five trials, vitamin D was given to nursing home residents and was found to be effective in reducing incidence of falls. Whether vitamin D does this through improved balance, muscle strength or other factors is still uncertain.

Another interesting study involved nine people in their seventies showing early signs of memory impairment(2). They were asked to drink the equivalent of 2 to 2 1/2 cups of commercially available blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks, while a control group drank a non-blueberry beverage. Those who drank blueberry juice showed improvement in some cognitive parameters, bringing the possible benefits of blueberries to light.

If you’re not taking adequate amounts of vitamin D, you’re doing yourself a big disservice. I recommend that most adults consume 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D. I personally take 5,000 to 6,000 IU daily and periodically check my vitamin D levels. My last vitamin D was 78, which is still well within the normal range. The benefits of vitamin D are myriad and I continue to feel this is probably the most important nutrient available.

1. Cameron I, Murray G, Gillespie L, Robertson M, Hill K, Cumming R, Kerse N. Interventions for preventing falls in older people in nursing care facilities and hospitals. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.January 2010 20(1): 54-65.

2. Krikorian R, Shidler M, Nash T, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk M, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2010 Jan 4; [Epub ahead of print]

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