Falls and fractures are common among the elderly: of people over 65, 30% will have them each year. For those over 80, up to an amazing 50% will suffer a fall or fracture. Thus, these are extremely prevalent problems. If you keep your nutrient levels up, you could shield yourself from this issue.
Moreover, the annual costs from fall-related injuries in the U.S. in the elderly will increase from $20.3 billion in 1994 to approximately $32.4 billion by 2020. Risk factors for falls in the elderly include: muscle weakness; past history of falls; use of more than four prescription medications; depression; age over 80 years; use of an assistive device; arthritis; and impaired gait, balance, memory, vision and activities of daily living.
Both vitamin D and calcium have been studies in terms of preventing fractures, muscle weakness, and falls. Here are the most informative trials:
1992: Vitamin D taken by injection (150,000 to 300,000 international units [IU] a year) led to fewer upper limb and rib fractures, but made no difference in hip fractures.1994: Vitamin D (800 IU a day) and calcium (1,200 milligrams [mg]) led to fewer hip fractures and deaths caused by them.
1996: Vitamin D at 400 IU a day had no effect on hip or other fractures.
1997: Vitamin D at 700 IU a day, and calcium at 500 mg a day, led to increased bone density and reduced fractures.
1979: 1-alpha-hydroxycholecalciferol and calcium improved muscle weakness.
2000: Vitamin D (800 IU/day) and/or calcium (1,200 mg/day) reduced body sway and the number of falls in women over 70. The vitamin plus the calcium worked best.
2003: Vitamin D (800 IU/day) and calcium (1,200 mg/day) improved muscle function and reduced the risk of falling by 50%.
Recently, researchers identified five good-quality studies that totaled 1,237 individuals (81% women with mean age of 70 years). Participants took between 400 and 800 IU of vitamin D a day, along with 800 to 1,200 mg of calcium. Vitamin D reduced the risk of falls by 22%, particularly in women. The proof for men wasn’t significant. How calcium came into play is not entirely clear.
Bottom line: Older adults are at a higher risk for nutrient deficiency, which carries negative effects for health. Many healthy individuals have nutrient levels that are not good. Therefore, it is advisable for these individuals to take a multivitamin daily along with an additional 400 IU of vitamin D and supplementation calcium of 1,200 mg.
So ends my series on important nutrients for older adults. Keeping the information I’ve offered in mind will help you keep your body strong well into your twilight years.
Here are the previous articles in this series: