This Vitamin May Save Older Women from Falls

Vitamin D may reduce fall risk, increase muscle strength in postmenopausal women

(RxWiki News) Could a single vitamin help keep postmenopausal women on their feet?

A new study from Brazil found that vitamin D-3 supplements may improve muscle strength and reduce the risk of falls in postmenopausal women.

"We concluded that the supplementation of vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle," said study author L. M. Cangussu, PhD, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at São Paulo State University, in a press release.

Sarcopenia is a loss of muscle mass and function that often occurs as a patient ages. Because this condition is linked to hormone level decreases, it's common in postmenopausal women — whose bodies are undergoing hormonal changes. Sarcopenia can lead to falls and injuries.

For this study, Dr. Cangussu and team looked at 160 Brazilian women ages 50 to 65 with a history of falls. These women had all gone through menopause.

For nine months, these women took either a vitamin D-3 supplement or a placebo. Their muscle mass and strength were measured before and after this study.

While muscle strength was found to increase by 25.3 percent in the women taking vitamin D-3, it was found to decrease by 6.8 percent in the women taking the placebo.

The placebo group also had nearly twice the fall risk of the vitamin D-3 group — and nearly three times the risk of recurring falls.

"While this study is unlikely to decide the debate over vitamin D, it provides further evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements by postmenopausal women in an effort to reduce frailty and an increased risk of falling," said Wulf H. Etian, MD, PhD, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, in a press release.

This study was presented Sept. 30 at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

The São Paulo Research Foundation funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
September 29, 2015