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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