Vitamin D reduces fall risk in older women

Australia is a country with no shortage of sunshine, but even there in the winter months there may not be enough to keep the body adequately supplied so you can imagine that the situation is even more pronounced in more northern climes. Sunshine is the main source of vitamin D, and one very specific element of that – Vitamin D2 – appeared to reduce the risk of falls, especially during the winter months. This is important news for women at high-risk, such as those with osteoporosis, and the simplest advice is to get as much natural sunlight as you possibly can, and make sure you have adequate amounts of calcium in your diet as that helps vitamin D to be best utilized by the body.

Approximately one-third of women over 65 fall each year, and if a woman has a vitamin D deficiency then she is at greater risk of fracture. Those women given a vitamin D2 and calcium supplement in a trial at the University of Western Australia had a 19% lower risk of falls compared with patients given calcium alone. The trial studied 300 women over the age of 70 living in Perth, Australia who had a history of falling in the previous year. Older people who fall frequently do tend to have more risk factors for falling, including greater degrees of disability and poorer levels of physical function, so supplementing with D2 is only one factor to be considered. Taking any one vitamin in isolation can cause problems so before you decide to supplement please talk first to a qualified nutritionist, or treat yourself to a couple of weeks in the sun during the darkest days of winter. If you can’t get away, then take advantage if every ray of sunshine you can find and get outdoors as often as possible.