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Vitamin D: Deficiency and Fall-Related Injuries

Vitamin D has been one of the most popular supplements taken for overall health. It is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin” because of how our skin cells naturally produce it when exposed to the sun (specifically ultraviolet B rays).

Vitamin D has been found to play a part in several key bodily functions, leading to it gaining significant attention. But did you know that supplementation may play an important role in reducing the risk of falls and fractures in older people?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin

People are at the most risk of vitamin D deficiency during the winter, when our exposure to the sun is the lowest. Vitamin D isn’t naturally found in many foods, so if you are deficient, taking a supplement can be an effective solution. Supplementation is primarily popular due to its link to three bodily functions:

Bone Health: aids in your calcium and phosphorus absorption – essential for strong and healthy bones. It also reduces the risk of bone conditions such as osteoporosis, or osteomalacia.

Muscle Strength: has been shown to help muscle repair and function. It has also been found that there is a link between low vitamin D levels and a person’s risk of loss of muscle strength as they age – otherwise known as dynapenia.1

Immune System Support: aids with regulation of the immune system through its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties, and it has been found that people with a deficiency are more likely to develop a cough, cold, or upper respiratory infection.

‘Vitamin D – A proven D-fence against falls’ is a piece of research conducted by ACC and the Ministry of Health. It looked at the link between vitamin D and falls in residential care facilities. It is estimated that vitamin D supplements can prevent at least a quarter of falls that currently occur in residential care facilities.2

As we get older our risk of falling become greater, and the consequences become more serious. About 1 in three adults over the age of 65 will fall in any one year.3 The impact of a fall can go beyond bone fractures, or serious injury – they can have a permanent impact on your independence and quality of life.

Because of its link to muscle strength and bone health researchers found that vitamin D reduced a person’s risk of falls and fractures. Similar studies overseas have also demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of falls amongst older adults.

During winter and as we get older the likelihood of being deficient in vitamin D increases. This can have a negative impact on our muscle strength, bone health, and our immune system.  An additional consequence of vitamin D deficiency for older people is an increased risk of falls and fractures – which can compromise a person’s independence and quality of life. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D naturally, it can be helpful to take vitamin D supplements.

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