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Vitamin D Supplements Show Little Effect in Fall Prevention: Study

There is no evidence suggesting that vitamin D supplements prevent falls, according to a recent meta-analysis. The research, which appears in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, also states that ongoing trials to test this theory are unlikely to change this result. During the study, Mark Bolland, PhD, University of Auckland, New Zealand, and colleagues, reportedly investigated findings from 20 randomized controlled trials which tested the potential of vitamin D supplements to reduce falls in a total of 29,535 individuals.

A news release from The Lancet indicates that supplements do not reduce falls by 15% or more, suggesting that the amount that vitamin D reduces fall risk at a population level is very low. The release notes that past trials and previous meta-analyses designed to investigate the ability of vitamin D to prevent falls have produced mixed results.

The release adds that the recent study’s findings add to those of the previous meta-analyses by applying a trial sequential analysis, intended to predict the potential of future trials with a similar design to “sway” existing evidence. The current study’s results suggest trials in progress are unlikely to overturn the finding that vitamin D supplements do not appreciably reduce falls, and the researchers add that there is insufficient evidence to support prescribing vitamin D to reduce falls.

Yet, the authors also emphasize in the statement that the existing evidence does not show whether vitamin D might reduce falls in particularly vulnerable older individuals, such as those who have fallen. Most clinical trials report only the total number of falls in the study population, rather than the number of falls per person in the study, the researchers explain.

Clifford Rosen, MD, Maine Medical Research Institute, Scarborough, USA, and Christine Taylor, PhD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA, who authored a comment linked to the study, note that it remains to be established whether a large trial is feasible in this population, and “Until then, we are left with uncertainty about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for reduction in fall risk, particularly among vulnerable older people.”

Source(s): Science Daily, The Lancet