Lots of people are urged by their doctors to take Vitamin D supplements to preserve strong bones. But a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports a surprising complication from vitamin D supplements.
This study observed 2256 community-based, healthy women 70 years of age or older, divided in two groups. Each autumn, for 3-5 years, the women in the group getting treatment was given a single large dose (500,000 IU) of vitamin D. The other group of women received a similar-looking placebo.
During the study those receiving vitamin D experienced more falls and had more hip fractures. Blood tests given at 1 and 3 months after the vitamin D treatment showed that vitamin levels in their blood remained high. Most of the falls and fractures occurred during the three months immediately after receiving the vitamin D.
Perhaps it would be better for people to get outside and walk in the sunshine year round, as long as weather permits. Low impact exercise combined with sunshine may be the best recommendation for preventing falls and hip fractures in elderly women.
Even a century ago, health reformers like the writer Ellen White saw advantages in getting outdoor exercise. Sunshine itself produces sufficient vitamin D in the skin, and supplementation may not always be the best way to get vitamin D.