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High Levels of Vitamin D do not reduce risk of falls in Seniors, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 06, 2016 09:44 AM EST

Giving seniors higher doses of vitamin D to reduce falls is not effective, a new study found. According to the new research, for some seniors, taking more vitamin D could actually increase risk of falls.

For this study, the researchers led by Dr. Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari of the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland set out to examine if increasing vitamin D levels can be beneficial to older adults who are prone to falls. Vitamin D is often recommended to seniors, who tend to have low levels of vitamin D, for muscle health.

The team recruited 200 participants from Switzerland who were at least 70-years-old with an average age of 78. About two-thirds of the sample were women and nearly 60 percent had low vitamin D levels. All of the participants had fallen over in the past year.

The researchers assigned the participants into three separate groups. One group was instructed to take 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day. The second group took the same amount of vitamin D with an additional vitamin D supplement called calcifediol (calcidiol) every day. The last group ingested 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. All of the participants were tracked for one year.

At the end of the study, the researchers found about 66 percent of the people who took extra vitamin D had experienced falls. The rate of falls in the group that took the lower dose of vitamin D was 48 percent. The people in the lower-dose group also experienced the most improvement in their leg mobility when compared to the other two groups.

The team concluded that while taking the recommended dose of vitamin D can be beneficial, there is no evidence that taking more will lead to more health benefits.

The study was published in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

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