Drexel University Logo Investigations have suggested that intake of vitamin D supplements declines chances of falls among older women. Well it now seems that both exercise and vitamin D help in avoiding falls among the elderly population. A groundbreaking study undertaken by the Drexel University School of Public Health asserts that exercise and vitamin D supplements are the best means to keep risk of falling at bay in people aged 65 and above.

At the time of the study, investigators thoroughly assessed 18 clinical trials of exercise and physical therapy that included almost 4,000 people aged 65 or older. While some trials included group exercise or Thai Chi classes, others were provided with individualized exercise instruction at home. Participants had to perform various exercises which focused on enhancing gait, balance, strength and flexibility required for daily activities. The interventions were conducted for six weeks to 12 months or longer. Evaluation periods on the other hand, lasted up to 18 months after the programs ended. When inspecting individually most of these trials apparently failed to demonstrate any statistical difference. However, on gathering the exercisers together, a 13 percent lower risk of falling as compared to those who did not exercise was registered.

Yvonne L. Michael, ScD, MS, an associate professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health and lead investigator, elucidated, “Our evidence review shows that exercise and Vitamin D supplementation are the most effective primary care interventions to prevent falls. This is important news because falls are extremely common in this population and they are the leading cause of death and injury for the elderly. We need to help primary care clinicians find better ways to prevent falls, and this review will help to do that.”

Benefits of vitamin D supplementation were evaluated in nine clinical trials that engulfed around 6,000 participants receiving daily oral doses of vitamin D with or without calcium. The dosage supposedly ranged from 10 to 1,000 IU’s per day and in one trial volunteers were provided with a larger single intramuscular injection of 600,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. The trails were conducted for a period of eight weeks to three years and the follow-up periods ranged from six to 36 months. Those consuming vitamin D possibly had a 17 percent decreased threat of falling as compared to participants who did not receive Vitamin D.

The study is published in the December 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.