Low Vitamin D Associated with Falls and Loss of Mobility in Elderly

Thursday, June 07, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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One-third of elderly Americans are blatantly deficient in vitamin D and a majority lack optimal vitamin D for good health.  One quality of health aspect during aging is maintaining the physical ability to get around and do things.  Several new studies point out that vitamin D is needed to maintain physical functionality during aging.

The first study involved 2,099 men and women aged 70-79 who did not have mobility problems at the beginning of the study.  They were tested for vitamin D status and followed for the next six years.  Those with low vitamin D were more likely to develop mobility limitations, including a twofold higher risk for mobility disability.

“This is one of the first studies to look at the association of vitamin D and the onset of new mobility limitations or disability in older adults,” said lead author Denise Houston, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition epidemiologist in the Wake Forest Baptist Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology.  “It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone and older adults, who may not spend much time outdoors, may need to take a vitamin D supplement.  Higher amounts of vitamin D may be needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions.”

In a separate report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended exercise and vitamin D to prevent falls in adults ages 65 and older.  This report is significant because government panels of experts seldom recommend a vitamin for anything, even when the evidence is overwhelming.  In other words, the evidence in support of older people taking vitamin D to prevent falls is overwhelming.  And according to the first study they also need vitamin D to keep active, which is another recommendation of this panel.

I previously reported that researchers have found that increasing vitamin D in the elderly would significantly extend lifespan.  I have also reported that the dose of vitamin D needed to optimize levels is between 4,000 I.U. and 8,000 I.U. per day.  A person does not want to be at the bottom of the normal range on a vitamin D test.  You should strive to be in the middle of the normal range for optimal benefits of vitamin D during aging. 


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