Vitamin D may reduce falls in older people

Accidents can, and do, happen. But older people are particularly vulnerable to injury – or worse – following a fall.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, around 310,000 hospital admissions during 2011-2012 were for falls in people aged 65 and older. And even if a fall doesn’t cause an injury, it can lead to anxiety and loss of independence among those who are older.

However, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests taking vitamin D supplements could help reduce falls among housebound elderly people.

The study included 68 participants who received either a vitamin D supplements or dummy pills (placebo). At the start of the study, more than half of the volunteers had low levels of vitamin D, but those who received the supplement found their blood levels increased. Not only that, but the volunteers who received vitamin D also reported having half the number of falls compared to those who received the placebo.

The study’s authors can’t say why this happened, but they’re now looking into whether or not vitamin D can affect things like muscle strength and balance. With falls in housebound older people often leading to disability and placement in a care home, the researchers say they’re keen to help older people keep their independence and live safely at home for as long as possible.

The UK Department of Health currently recommends that people aged 65 and older should take a daily vitamin D supplement of between 5-10mg. Other groups at risk of having low vitamin D levels are also advised to take a supplement, including babies and young children aged six months to five years, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people who aren’t exposed to much sun (such as those who are housebound or who cover their skin for long periods).

Not sure which supplement to take? Ask your local Careway pharmacist, who can advise you which supplement would be right for you and offer tips on other ways to boost your vitamin D intake.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder. To find out more, read Focus on… Vitamin D.