Higher doses of vitamin D help prevent falls, study finds

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Seniors aged 65 and older can significantly reduce their risk of falls by taking vitamin D supplements every day. But they need to take more of the vitamin than previously thought, according to the results of a new study.

Currently, the U.S. Institutes of Medicine recommend adults aged 51 to 70 take 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D each day, and seniors aged 71 and older take 600 IU per day. After taking a close look at eight studies concerning the relationship between vitamin D and falls, researchers at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, concluded that those doses aren't enough. Vitamin D supplements of between 700 and 1,000 IU taken daily are associated with at least a 19% reduction in the risk of falls, they discovered. Vitamin D3 proved even more potent, reducing the risk of falls by 26%. Doses of less than 700 IU do not provide significant benefits when it came to falls prevention, researchers say. Falls are the most common reason seniors may need nursing home or rehabilitative care.

The effects of the higher doses of vitamin D become apparent after just a few months, and the benefits typically last for years, according to the researchers. The report was published online in the Oct. 2 edition of the British Medical Journal.

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