The findings from a Harvard Medical School study suggest that older persons may cut their risk of falls by more than 20 percent by taking vitamin D supplements. Further studies, however, are needed to determine the type and dosage of vitamin D that works best, and to clarify the benefits in men.
Although a few studies have shown a reduced risk of falls with vitamin D use, many others have failed to show a benefit. To better understand whether vitamin D protects against falls, the researchers analyzed data from ten previous studies that looked at the association in elderly populations.
Five of the studies were included in the main analysis, while the remaining five were used to verify the results. In the main analysis, vitamin D users were 22 percent less likely to experience a fall than patients who received inactive "placebo" pills or calcium.
In the second analysis, the risk reduction seen with vitamin D use fell to 13 percent, but was still statistically significant. Moreover, the protective effects were not dependent on gender, calcium use, duration of therapy or vitamin D type. Due to limited numbers of subjects, the protective effect observed for vitamin D use in men was not statistically significant.
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