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Vitamin D and exercise reduce injuries but not falls, says clinical trial

March 23, 2015
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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A two-year clinical trial conducted in Finland is inconclusive on the benefits of vitamin D and exercise in fall prevention and injuries from falls.

The 409 female participants were divided into four groups to explore the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation and regular exercise in reducing falls and fall injuries. Each group received a different treatment regimen:

  • Placebo without exercise
  • Vitamin D without exercise
  • Placebo and exercise
  • Vitamin D and exercise

The exercise training component featured supervised group classes and focused on balance, weights, agility and strength.

Study results showed that falls were not reduced by either vitamin D supplementation or exercise. Injurious falls, however, were reduced by more than half in exercisers (with or without vitamin D as part of the regimen).

The study also reported vitamin D helped maintain bone density in the femoral neck and increased density in the shinbone.  It was found that exercise alone improved balance and muscle strength.

“This trial reminds us that although vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin…more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation on clinical outcomes,” noted Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest, and Roger Chou, MD of Oregon Health & Science University, in a commentary. They also noted that this study was conducted among white European women and might not translate to the diversity of the U.S. population.

Read the abstract at JAMA Internal Medicine.

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