Vitamin D May Improve Balance
We used to chuckle at that medical alarm commercial with the classic line "I've fallen and I can't get up!" Now that we're getting older ourselves, though, the cry for help doesn't sound quite so funny. The Centers for Disease Control reports that falls are the leading cause of deaths from injuries for people 65 and over. Taking a header is also the top culprit when it comes to hospital admissions for trauma among the 65+ set. Could upping your intake of Vitamin D help you from becoming a face plant statistic? New research suggests that the answer may be yes.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force chair Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH and colleagues reviewed 50 studies about the efficacy of various methods of intervention in preventing falls. Their findings, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that taking vitamin D supplements resulted in about a 17% reduction in the risk of falling. The effect was even greater for older adults who were vitamin D deficient at the outset. Not surprisingly, exercise and physical therapy also reduced the risk of falls, but by a more modest 13%.
As Med Page Today pointed out, although age alone is a risk factor for falls, previous research also has implicated hearing loss, multiple medications, multifocal glasses, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease.