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The results showed that the supplements did not reduce falls by 15 percent or more, which means they had little effect, according to Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues.
They concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D to seniors to lower their risk of falls, and also said that current ongoing studies investigating this theory are unlikely to change the conclusion.
The study was published in the April 23 issue of The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.
The researchers noted that current evidence does not show whether taking vitamin D supplements might reduce falls in particularly vulnerable older people, such as those who fall often. This is because most studies examine only the total number of falls among all participants, rather than the number of falls per person.
Until now, some evidence that vitamin D supplements might prevent falls has led certain health organizations to recommend the use of the supplements, the review authors noted.
"Whether a large trial is feasible in this vulnerable population remains to be established. Until then, we are left with uncertainty about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for reduction in fall risk, particularly among vulnerable older people," Clifford Rosen, of the Maine Medical Research Institute, and Christine Taylor, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, wrote in an accompanying commentary.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, news release, April 23, 2014