Vitamin D supplementation helps prevent falls in nursing home patients

January 25, 2010
    A meta-analysis of existing studies published by the Cochrane Library of reviews this month concluded that vitamin D supplementation is helpful in preventing falls among older nursing home patients. Falls are associated with such factors as cognitive problems, muscle weakness and osteoporosis, and are a leading cause of injury, loss of independence and death among older individuals.      To evaluate interventions designed to reduce falls by older people in nursing care facilities and hospitals, Ian Cameron, of Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney and associates reviewed 41 clinical trials that included a total of 25,422 participants who had an average age of 83, many of whom were women. They determined that taking specific measures, including exercise, medication and improved environmental factors, helped prevent falls in hospitals but were not of significant benefit in nursing homes unless provided by multidisciplinary teams. Vitamin D supplementation proved to be effective in preventing falls among nursing facility patients in five clinical trials.      “The prescription of vitamin D reduces falls, as may a review of medication by a pharmacist,” the authors conclude in their summary. “There is no evidence that other interventions targeting single risk factors reduce falls and this includes exercise interventions.”