New study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, reveals that older people in residential care can reduce their incidence of falls if they take a vitamin D supplement for two years.
To determine whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the incidence of falls and fractures in older people in residential care who are not classically vitamin D deficient, the Australian researchers examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation in 625 residents of 149 residential care facilities for a period of two years.
The participants were randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplements (ergocalciferol) or inactive 'placebo' for two years.
All subjects received 600 mg of elemental calcium daily as calcium carbonate. The falls and fractures were recorded prospectively in study diaries by care staff.
At the start of the study, patient characteristics were similar in both groups. The researchers found that that vitamin D use cut the risk of falls 27% to 37 % compared with placebo.
The study thus highlights the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation in a population of elderly people in residential care.