- Giving the elderly vitamin D supplements increases their risk of falls
- Findings at odds with advice which recommends tablets for strong bones
- Supplements may make them feel more active, and therefore they put themselves at a higher risk of falling
Giving the elderly vitamin D supplements increases their risk of falls, say researchers.
The findings are at odds with NHS advice which recommends giving patients the tablets to strengthen their bones.
One reason for the higher risk may be that the pills make patients more active, meaning they have a higher chance of falling over.
The main source of vitamin D is a chemical reaction in the body which requires the sun’s rays on our skin. But most of us do not get enough sun because we spend so much time indoors (file image)
Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland looked at 200 men and women over 70 who had previously had a fall.
They were divided into three groups, two of which were given high doses of vitamin D over a year. Over the course of the trial, around 60 per cent of the 200 had fallen and those on the high dose supplements were more likely to have done so.
‘Seniors (pensioners) on the higher-dose vitamin D experienced no improvement in lower extremity function, had the highest percentages of fallers, and demonstrated the most falls,’ said lead author Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, whose study is published in the journal JAMA, Internal Medicine.
‘This detrimental effect was seen during the first six months of the trial and was maintained during the last six months.’
It was not clear why the higher dose group were falling more often, but the supplements may make them feel more active, and therefore they put themselves at a higher risk of falling.
Current NHS guidelines recommend that the over-65s take a vitamin D pill every day to strengthen their bones. Others advised to take the pills include pregnant women and those who spend long periods indoors.
Energetic: One reason for the higher risk may be that the pills make patients more active, meaning they have a higher chance of falling over (file image)
Researchers estimate at least half of adults and a quarter of children are vitamin D deficient.
The main source of the vitamin is a chemical reaction in the body which requires the sun’s rays on our skin. But most of us do not get enough sun because we spend so much time indoors.
Other sources include oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals. A lack of vitamin D can cause bone weakness or deformities. However, the benefits of supplements have been disputed.
HOW UNDERCOVER FLU STRAINS EVADE THE JAB
Minor strains of flu which are not covered by vaccination piggyback on major variants to infect us at the same time, research has found.
Current flu jabs target the dominant strains of the virus because these infect the largest number of people. However, scientists have discovered that these are often mixed in with minor variants – which can have equally serious effects.
Professor Elodie Ghedin, from New York University’s College of Global Public Health, said: ‘A flu infection is not homogeneous, but rather a mix of strains that gets transmitted as a swarm. Vaccines target the dominant strains… but our findings reveal an ability of minor strains to elude these vaccines.’
Research by Professor Ghedin’s team, published in the journal Nature Genetics, looked at samples from flu cases in Hong Kong in 2009. All carried minor strains, as well as variants of major and minor.
The flu jab – typically given to more vulnerable groups – costs the NHS around £100million a year.
The comments below have not been moderated.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
Find out now