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The Nutrition Examination Research Digest (NERD) aims to provide rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies. Click here to subscribe or login if already a subscriber .

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Have a nice trip, see you next fall

Some preliminary evidence has pointed to a potentially greater risk of falls for elderly people taking vitamin D. That’s put to the test in this year-long randomized trial.

Study under review: Monthly High-Dose Vitamin D Treatment for the Prevention of Functional Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Introduction

Vitamin D supplementation has been proposed[1] as a possible preventive strategy for delaying functional decline associated with aging. Mechanistically, there are several reasons why maintaining sufficient vitamin D status (assessed as serum 25(OH)D, or calcifediol, concentrations, which is the second-to-last form of vitamin D before it is activated in the kidneys to form 1,25(OH)2D) would be beneficial to physical functioning. These include the presence[2] of vitamin D receptors in muscle tissue, the fact that muscle weakness is a clinical sign[3] of vitamin D deficiency, and research demonstrating that vitamin D receptor activation in muscle promotes[4] protein synthesis preferentially in type-II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers relevant to the prevention of falls.

Definitive data are lacking on the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation and dose requirements related to the improvement of lower extremity function. The current study put the mechanistic evidence to the test by investigating the effect of high monthly doses of vitamin D on the functional capacity of elderly individuals with a history of prior falling.

There are mechanistic reasons to think that vitamin D supplementation may help with day-to-day function in elderly people, including fall prevention. However, strong data don’t exist regarding its efficacy. The purpose of this study was to test whether high monthly doses of vitamin D could help improve leg function and prevent falls in the elderly.

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Other Articles in Issue #16 (February 2016)