Pfeifer M, Begerow B, Minne HW, Suppan K, Fahrleitner-Pammer A, Dobnig H. Effects of a long-term vitamin D and calcium supplementation on falls and parameters of muscle function in community-dwelling older individuals. Osteoporos Int 20, 315-322

Institute of Clinical Osteology Gustav Pommer and Clinic Der Fürstenhof, Bad Pyrmont, Germany.
Osteoporosis International (Impact Factor: 4.17). 02/2009; 20(2):315-22. DOI: 10.1007/s00198-008-0662-7
Source: PubMed


In 242 community-dwelling seniors, supplementation with either 1000 mg of calcium or 1000 mg of calcium plus vitamin D resulted in a decrease in the number of subjects with first falls of 27% at month 12 and 39% at month 20. Additionally, parameters of muscle function improved significantly.
The efficacy of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on risk of falling in the elderly is discussed controversially. Randomized controlled trials using falls as primary outcome are needed. We investigated long-term effects of calcium and vitamin D on falls and parameters of muscle function in community-dwelling elderly women and men.
Our study population consisted of 242 individuals recruited by advertisements and mailing lists (mean [ +/- SD] age, 77 +/- 4 years). All serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels were below 78 nmol/l. Individuals received in a double blinded fashion either 1000 mg of calcium or 1000 mg of calcium plus 800 IU of vitamin D per day over a treatment period of 12 months, which was followed by a treatment-free but still blinded observation period of 8 months. Falls were documented using diaries. The study took place in Bad Pyrmont, Germany (latitude 52 degrees ) and Graz, Austria (latitude 46 degrees ).
Compared to calcium mono, supplementation with calcium plus vitamin D resulted in a significant decrease in the number of subjects with first falls of 27% at month 12 (RR = 0.73; CI = 0.54-0.96) and 39% at month 20 (RR = 0.61; CI = 0.34-0.76). Concerning secondary endpoints, we observed significant improvements in quadriceps strength of 8%, a decrease in body sway of 28%, and a decrease in time needed to perform the TUG test of 11%.
Combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation proved superior to calcium alone in reducing the number of falls and improving muscle function in community-dwelling older individuals.

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