Health news: Vitamin D supplements not effective, studies find

(Flickr/Neeta Lind)

Vitamin D supplements are ineffective in improving mobility among the senior population and may even actually pose health risks, a recently published study shows.

As people age, the bones become weaker and more brittle. This causes the elderly to be more prone to falling and fractures. This is why doctors have been recommending Vitamin D supplements to help slow down bone deterioration.

In the aforementioned study, though, the researchers found out that higher doses of the said vitamin can possibly translate to more falls. The currently recommended amount is 800 International Unit (IU) a day.

Dr. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, chair of geriatrics and aging research at the University Hospital Zurich, and his team recruited 200 people in Switzerland who are 70 years old and older and had experienced falling over the previous year. Additionally, about 58 percent of them were suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.

The participants were divided into three groups and given vitamin D supplements in different doses: 800 IU, a vitamin D product called calcidiol plus the recommended daily dose of 800 IU, and 2000 IU.

"We expected that we would see more benefit by going to the higher doses of vitamin D," said Bischoff-Ferrari, as reported by Time.

After a year of tracking them, the researchers found out that two-thirds of the two latter groups experienced falls while only 48 percent of those on the lowest dose did. Moreover, the people on the lowest-dose group showed the best improvement in terms of leg function.

The published article stated: "The higher doses had no effect on lower extremity physical performance and increased the risk of falls."

While the direct cause-and-effect relationship between the high amount of Vitamin D and the frequency of falls among seniors is yet to be established, the researchers still recommend getting enough vitamin D from food (e.g. salmon, sardines, fortified milk, shrimp and egg yolk) and sunlight exposure. Daily supplements at the recommended amount can be taken if deficiency is evident.

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