Vitamin D intake needs to come from a variety of sources for best fracture prevention, and most older people simply don’t get enough vitamin D to effectively reduce their risk of falls, according to a consensus statement released today by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS).
Low vitamin D levels are associated with weak muscles and bones, both of which contribute to the risk of falls. Vitamin D is also crucial for the body’s absorption of calcium and the maintenance of healthy bone density.
Not many foods are natural sources of vitamin D, and Mother Nature’s primary source of vitamin D—sunlight—often is avoided by older adults, who may have delicate skin or may be taking photo-reactive medications. These factors all emphasize the importance of regular intake of vitamin D supplements as part of a resident’s falls prevention plan.
The AGS workgroup's consensus is that “a serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) should be a minimum goal to achieve in older adults, particularly in frail adults, who are at higher risk of falls, injuries, and fractures. The workgroup concluded that the goal—to reduce fall injuries related to low vitamin D status—could be achieved safely and would not require practitioners to measure serum 25(OH)D concentrations in older adults in the absence of underlying conditions that increase the risk of hypercalcemia (e.g., advanced renal disease, certain malignancies, sarcoidosis).”
James Judge, MD, Chair of the AGS’ Consensus Statement on Vitamin D Supplementation for Older Adults Work Group, noted in an AGS announcement: “The goal of the consensus statement is to help primary healthcare providers help older patients—both those living in communities and in long-term care facilities—get adequate vitamin D from all available sources.”