Found to Reduce Age-Related Falls
By Rosalie Marion
October 5, 2004
Elderly people who get supplemental
vitamin D in their diets have stronger muscles than those who don't, based on
evidence from studies funded by the Agricultural Research Service.
The findings underscore the importance of getting adequate vitamin D for the
prevention of falls among the elderly. An estimated one-third of people over
age 65--and up to half of those over age 80--are injured in falls each year.
Bess Dawson-Hughes is director of the
Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in
Boston, Mass., and is also a physician and nutrition specialist. She, along
with colleagues in academia and medicine, researched the five major vitamin D
clinical trials conducted with older populations during the last 43 years.
The researchers' analysis revealed that among more than 1,200 participants
studied in controlled trials during those decades, elderly people fell down 22
percent less often if they took vitamin D supplements. The people studied
averaged age 70, were in stable health, and were either community-dwelling or
living in some type of care facility.
Falls lead to 40 percent of all nursing facility admissions and are the
largest single cause of injury-related deaths among elderly. What's more,
experts say fall-related injuries could account for an estimated $32 billion in
future medical, hospital and rehabilitative care costs annually.
The analysis was published in The
Journal of the American Medical Association.
more about this research in the October issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.