Research has revealed that Vitamin D may be able to prevent falls
7th September 2015
Older people given vitamin D supplements as part of a study were found to have less falls than those who were given dummy pills. This is thought to be because the tablets strengthen the bones and muscles, while also boosting the immune system, helping to prevent frailty.
Most people get their intake of vitamin D from natural sunlight, caused by a chemical reaction when it touches the skin. However, many stairlift users in the UK suffer from a lack of vitamin D as they are either housebound or unable to spend as much time outside as others. A lack of the vitamin is also thought to be linked to conditions such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia, which cause weakness in the bones. Other sources of the vitamin include oily fish, eggs and a selection of fortified breakfast cereals.
Supplement-takers suffered an average of half as many falls
In total, 68 older people took part in the study, with half being given the supplement with their meals, and the other half receiving a tablet without the vitamin. The study took place for five months, with researchers keeping a diary to record how many times each patient fell over. Blood tests were taken at the beginning and end of the study, which showed that the vitamin D levels of 33 out of 34 older people given genuine supplements was now either normal or very good.
NHS statistics in this article show that almost a third of people over the age of 65 and half of those over 80 fall at least once a year. Falls are also the main cause of death in the over 75s, which costs the health service over £2 million a year. If vitamin D does have the health benefits that this study appears to prove, it could mean that many more older people are able to remain living independently at home for longer.
Image Credit: Colin Dunn (flickr.com)
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