Older adults given vitamin D and calcium supplements may reduce their risk for falls, according to a consensus opinion published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Researchers found that a minimum daily vitamin D supplement of 1,000 international units accompanied by calcium (common calcium dosages ranged between 500 and 1,200 milligrams per day) could help reduce the risk of falls and the severity of injury when falls do occur. The research group supported the recommended daily average of 4,000 international units from all sources, and recommended use of vitamin D2 or D3 as supplements. D2 is appropriate for use by vegetarians.
Authors wrote that "although there is no evidence that age alone is a risk factor for low vitamin D levels, lack of exposure to sunlight in long-term care settings" is associated with the drop. The opinion is based on research that included an extensive review of all meta-analyses published before 2008 on the relationship of vitamin D, calcium supplementation, and falls in older adults, as well as Medline literature reviews for articles published between 2006 and 2009.
APTA provides education on exercise prescriptions for balance improvement and falls prevention, and offers other resources for physical therapists, such as how to develop consumer events on balance, falls, and exercise, and information on evidence-based falls programs. Members can also access an APTA pocket guide on falls risk reduction (.pdf) as well as take part in an online community where members can share information about falls prevention.
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