Researchers from Tufts University believe taking high doses of Vitamin D can help people over 65 prevent bone fractures. The elderly, who are prone to have weaker, brittle bones, could benefit by taking these vitamin supplements.
“Vitamin D supplementation is an efficient intervention for a costly injury that affects thousands of older adults each year,” said Dawson-Hughes, who is also a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.
“The average recovery is long and painful and deeply impacts quality of life. After a fracture, older patients may only regain partial mobility, resulting in a loss of independence that is personally demoralizing and that can place added stress on family members and caregivers.”
The analysis of 11 clinical trials shows a dose of 800 IUs (Independent Units) per day can significantly reduce the risk of most fractures, including hip, wrist and forearm in both men and women. The research stresses that benefits were not seen when lower doses of Vitamin D were taken. The current medical reference suggests seniors take a 600 IU dose.
A cost benefit
Vitamin D supplements have been linked to other health benefits, including the prevention of erectile dysfunction. In this case, the vitamin could not only help prevent fractures, but could save seniors money on costly medical procedures. Vitamin D supplements cost pennies a day, Dawson-Hughes said, whereas the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimated the cost of treating a hip fracture was $26,912 in 2007.
Dawson-Hughes says most seniors require a supplement to meet their Vitamin D needs. While sunlight and some foods provide a source of Vitamin D, on average these that only contribute about 150 IUs per day. A supplement is needed to increase the amount of Vitamin D to levels that can prevent bone fractures.