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Study: Vitamin D No Benefit To The Those Over 70

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There is little benefit for those over 70 taking higher dose vitamin D supplements to improve their bone strength and reduce the risk of falls, new research has revealed.

Older people are often encouraged to take supplements of vitamin D to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

But a Newcastle University-led study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has backed previous research which shows there is no gain for older people taking vitamin D.

Aim Of Study

Almost 400 people, aged 70 years or older, were randomly allocated to one of three doses of vitamin D given once a month for a year — the doses were 300 μg, 600 μg or 1200 μg (equivalent to a daily dose of 10 μg, 20 μg or 40 μg).

The study’s aim was to measure in these older people the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the change in bone mineral density (BMD), a recognized indicator of bone strength, and changers in markers of bone metabolism.

The findings revealed that there was no change in BMD over 12 months between the three doses. However, the study did show that doses equivalent to 40 μg a day are safe in an older population and there was a beneficial effect on bone metabolism up to the highest dose.

“Vitamin D deficiency is common in older people, and it may lead to bone loss, impairment of muscle function and an increased risk of falls and fractures,” said Dr Terry Aspray, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine, who led study.

The results from previous studies assessing the effect of vitamin D on bone mineral density have yielded conflicting results, and our study is a significant contribution to the current debate, Aspray said.

“While our findings do not support evidence of the benefit of high dose supplements, at least on bone mineral density, we do, however, identify that higher doses of the supplement may have beneficial effects on bone metabolism and that they are safe for older people,” said Aspray

Aspray suggests that older people should focus on maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, adequate sun exposure and take regular exercise to keep their bones as strong as possible.

“While some may need to take vitamin D supplements, there is little benefit to taking more than 10 μg a day,” he said.

Further Studies

Further analysis is underway, including by a Newcastle University PhD student, on the effects sun exposure on vitamin D levels in older people and the impact of  supplements on muscle strength.

Experts are also looking at the impact of genes and kidney function on vitamin D levels and their function in the blood.

“Older people are at increased risk of falls and fractures, which are debilitating and erode people’s self-confidence, depriving them of their independence,” said Benjamin Ellis, Versus Arthritis Senior Clinical Policy Adviser. “Vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones and muscles, he said. People who are deficient in supplement are at increased risk of falls and fractures,” he said. — Newswise

The study was funded by Versus Arthritis.

 

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