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Vitamin D + Exercise = Fewer Falls

That's the conclusion from a review of 54 studies that included data from more than 26,000 seniors. Investigators from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force analyzed the studies in an effort to determine the best recommendations primary care physicians could make to patients age 65 and older in order to prevent falls. The injuries from these accidents are the greatest cause of death, disability and loss of independence among seniors. The incidence of falls has been rising in recent years, due in part to the increasing number of older adults in the population. The review found that taking vitamin D, with or without calcium, cut the risk of falling by an average of 17 percent. In half of the studies reviewed, the daily doses of vitamin D were greater than 800 international units. The researchers also found that exercise reduced the risk of falls by 13 percent. This benefit was seen whether the activity involved was designed to improve balance, strength and flexibility or was weight training or aerobic exercise such as walking. The review was published in the Dec. 21, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

My take? As you may know, I recommend that everyone take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily, not only because it helps strengthen bones, which may prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis, but also because it helps boost the immune system and protects against a number of serious diseases. Exercise is also key to maintaining optimum health in general, and to preventing falls in particular. In addition to aerobic activity, resistance training and exercises to increase flexibility and balance, I also highly recommend tai chi, a gentle form of movement training that has been shown to reduce risk of injury from falls among seniors.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for the great article. Vitamin D and exercise does reduce the risk of fractures and other injuries due to fall at old age and exercise can reduce number of falls.
Get exposed to sun regularly and you will need very little if any, vitamin D supplementation.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHealth Blog

My concern about Vitamin D is its toxicity. If you don't know your blood levels, how can you tell how much you need to take in a supplement? Since it is stored in your body and can become toxic, isn't that a problem?

My husband and I added a Vitamin D3 supplement to our diet, and we both experienced scaly patches of red, tender skin on our face that took weeks to heal. We can't say for sure that the Vitamin D caused it, but it was the only new addition to our diet, and has not recurred since we went off the supplementation. I know this is just anecdotal, but it does raise a concern. Perhaps sunshine is the best way to get this vitamin.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy Staywell

i am 63 and i exercise 4 times a week or an 1-2 hrs. i take multi-vitamins and i am about to begin taking bee pollen just to see what that is all about. i believe bee pollen contains all the vitamins and minerals i will need each day?

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhowardski
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