Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Vitamin D may prevent falls

Vitamin D pills may help you stay on your feet, but it seems to take some fairly high doses for the vitamin to have a stabilizing effect, according to an analysis by Swiss researchers.

Previous findings had already seeded hope that vitamin D might prevent falls by apparently improving people's strength and balance. Swiss researchers got a bird's eye view of the situation by amassing the data from eight controlled trials that included a total of almost 2,500 people, most of whom were women (81%) and on the older side (an average age of 80).

The take-home finding from their analysis of that data is that vitamin D pills in daily doses of between 700 IU and 1,000 IU reduce the risk of falling by 19%. In the five trials that tested vitamin D?, also known as cholecalciferol, the results were even better: a 26% reduction in falls. These results were published in the Oct. 1, 2009, issue of BMJ (the initials are now the official name of the British Medical Journal).

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