There is no benefit in getting higher vitamin D dosage among adults over the age of 70. It also found that too much vitamin D can increase the risk of falling which can subsequently lead to fractures among seniors as well.
Vitamin D can increase the risk of falling
“We expected that we would see more benefit by going to the higher doses of vitamin D,” Dr. Bischoff-Ferrari said as reported by Time Magazine. “Contrary to expectations, we found that actually the lowest dose was the most advantageous for any of the outcomes we looked at.”
For the study, two hundred participants at least aged 70 were divided into three groups. One received 24,000 IU of vitamin D3 per month, the second group received 60,000 IU monthly and the third received 24,000 IU and calcifediol. According to MedPage Today, the researchers found that seniors who belong in the 60,000 IU group had the highest incidence of falls and those in the 24,000 IU plus calcifediol group. However, those in the 24,000 IU only group had the lowest incidence of falls.
The researchers from Switzerland’s University Hospital Zurich came up with this findings after carrying out a year-long study on 200 seniors aged 70 years old and above. These participants were divided into three groups and over the course of the study, they were given varying doses of vitamin D.
The first group received 24,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 for each month, which is actually recommended dose set by the Institute of Medicine. The second group, on the other hand, was given a monthly dose of 60,000 IU of vitamin D3.
Lastly, the third group received a combination of calcifediol, which is a broken-down form of vitamin D, and a dose of 24,000 IU, according to CBS News.
After 12 months, the researchers performed a series of tests on the elderly participants and discovered that more than 60 percent of those in the second and third groups, who were given high-doses of vitamin, were more prone to falling down than those in the first group.
According to lead researcher Dr. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, the findings actually surprised them because they assumed that a higher dose would result to greater benefits.
“We expected that we would see more benefit by going to the higher doses of vitamin D,” he told Time. “Contrary to expectations, we found that actually the lowest dose was the most advantageous for any of the outcomes we looked at.”
“High monthly doses of vitamin D or a combination with calcifediol may not be warranted in seniors with a prior fall because of a potentially deleterious effect on falls,” the authors said. “Future research is needed to confirm our findings for daily dosing regimens.”
Vitamin D is important for elderly or aging seniors because it helps the body absorb calcium to maintain or build bone strength. Deficiency of it may cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness and even hip fractures, according to Parent Giving.
An accompanying editorial by Dr. Steven Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco and his colleagues states that vitamin D should be taken from various sources because there is little evidence that supplements can give the recommended dose. The experts suggest following the recommended daily allowance set by the Institute of Medicine that the elderly 70 years and above should have a daily intake of 800 IU of vitamin D from a nutritionally balanced meal.
At the end of 12 months, the researchers found that those who were given 60,000 IU vitamin D3 and 24,000 IU vitamin D3 plus calcifediol did not have better leg function, even if their 25-hydroxyvitamin D level reached at least 30 ng/mL.
Interestingly, more people from these two groups experienced falling. The researchers recorded that 66.9 percent from the high-dose vitamin D3 group and 66.1 percent from the vitamin D3 and calcifediol combination group fell, while only 47.9 percent from the control group fell.
“Compared with a monthly standard-of-care dose of 24,000 IU of vitamin D3, two monthly higher doses of vitamin D (60,000 IU and 24,000 IU plus calcifediol) conferred no benefit on the prevention of functional decline and increased falls in seniors 70 years and older with a prior fall event,” the researchers wrote.
They emphasized that high doses of vitamin D or vitamin D and calcifediol combination “may not be warranted” in older people with previous fall experience because of their “potentially deleterious effect.”