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High Doses of Vitamin D May Not Help Falls and Fractures

Vitamin D is a common treatment used in the community, particularly in the elderly to improve bone health and the risk of falls and fractures. Adequate Vitamin D levels are required to help the body absorb calcium which is important for bone health amongst other functions. A study has just been published online on January 4th in JAMA Internal Medicine that shows “high doses” defined as 2,000 IU daily (or typically 2 capsules a day) may actually increase the risk for falls among certain seniors. Those that took standard doses approximately 800 IU daily had the best benefit in falls and fractures in 200 Swiss seniors followed for one-year. These group of seniors (70 years or older) who had already had falls were divided into three groups. One took the standard, currently recommended 24,000 IU of vitamin D a month, another took 60,000 IU a month and a final group took 24,000 IU of vitamin D plus 300 micrograms of calcifediol, a broken down form of vitamin D. The group that took the lowest dose of the vitamin at 24,000 IU monthly, had falls (about 48%) while more of those taking the two higher doses (about 66.5%) fell during the year.

Not only did the people taking 24,000 IU monthly have fewer falls, but they also showed better muscle strength in their lower extremities, an indication that they might be better protected against falls and potential fractures. It should be noted that this study used a large monthly dose of Vitamin D, whereas the majority of the Australian population would be taking a smaller daily dose.

Vitamin D supplementation is a controversial area and there will be more research to come regarding optimal Vitamin D dosing and levels. Patients should be cautious not to take excessive amounts of Vitamin D and be guided by their doctor when commencing vitamin supplements for bone health.