To reduce their risk of debilitating falls that can crack a hip or spine, seniors who are unsteady on their feet should take vitamin D supplements and engage in regular exercise or physical therapy, a federal task force recommended last Monday. The US Preventive Services Task Force — the same panel of experts that gave a thumbs down to PSA screening two weeks ago — concluded that the latest evidence was strong enough to recommend these two measures.
The panel said there wasn’t enough evidence to recommend interventions such as vision correction, hip protectors, medication withdrawal, and protein supplementation.
While vitamin D supplements have questionable benefits for a variety of health claims — like warding off breast cancer or heart disease — they have been established as helpful for preventing bone loss and falls in the elderly.
The experts specifically recommended that those deemed to be at increased risk of falling get 800 international units a day of Vitamin D from food or supplements starting at age 70, and 600 IU’s from age 50 to 70.
Seniors at increased risk should also get regular exercise or physical therapy, though the task force left it up to doctors to decide what to recommend to individual patients.