JAMA meta analysis finds vitamin D supplements help prevent falls

May 03, 2004

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JAMA meta-analysis finds vitamin D supplements help prevent falls



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Life Extension Magazine May 2004 issue now online!

Life Extension Update Exclusive

JAMA meta-analysis finds vitamin D supplements help prevent falls
A meta-analysis published in the April 28 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) ( found that taking vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of falls in older people. Falls are the largest single cause of death from injury in older people and account for 40 percent of all nursing home admissions. Costs from fall-related injuries are projected to increase to 32.4 billion dollars by the year 2020.

The authors examined five double-blind randomized clinical trials that assessed the effect of any type of vitamin D on falls among individuals aged 60 and older. The primary analysis included 1,237 people with a mean age of 70 years, of whom 81 percent were women. Vitamin D intake ranged from 400 international units (iu) to 800 iu, or an active vitamin D analogue was administerd.

Analysis of the data from the five studies showed that taking vitamin D supplements was associated with a 22 percent reduction in the risk of falling compared with subjects who received calcium or a placebo. When the studies were examined separately, two of them found that 400 iu vitamin D did not significantly reduce fracture risk, and one found that it did not prevent falls, suggesting that a higher dose is more effective.

The authors conclude that “given the . . . high morbidity, mortality, and economic cost of falls, our results are sufficiently compelling to consider vitamin D supplementation for elderly individuals.”


Osteoporosis is a debilitating, costly, and difficult-to-treat decline in bone density that occurs primarily in postmenopausal females. It causes a progressive marked reduction in bone mineral density that often results in fractures of a serious nature. Most commonly these are spinal and hip fractures. Osteoporosis is a major public health issue for more than 28 million Americans, 80% of whom are women. It is estimated that in the United States today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis, and 18 million more probably have a low bone density, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis in later years. Half of the women over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Although osteoporosis is often thought of as an old person's disease, it can affect younger people who have hormonal difficulties, particularly women with anorexia, bleeding, or menstrual abnormalities in their 20s. Osteoporosis also occurs in men. Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, 700,000 vertebral fractures, and 250,000 wrist fractures (Riggs et al. 1995). The estimated cost for osteoporosis and associated fractures is $13.8 billion a year (Iqbal 2000).

Calcium is the mineral that automatically comes to mind when considering osteoporosis treatment. However, although bone contains large amounts of calcium, other minerals need to be considered as important in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. For example, other trace minerals (minerals needed in small amounts for specific tasks--usually enzyme activation) would include zinc, magnesium, boron, and silicon.

Many people in North America who consume an average diet have magnesium deficiency, and magnesium is important in bone structure. Magnesium deficiency comes about because most magnesium in our diet comes from the magnesium contained in the chlorophyll molecule found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables--not something that most people eat on a daily basis. Magnesium intake should be about half that of calcium, approximately 300-500 mg a day. If not provided in the diet, then magnesium should be supplemented. Some researchers are now also reporting that magnesium deficiency plays a significant role in the development of osteoporosis (Dreosti 1995). Studies have shown that women with osteoporosis tend to have a lower magnesium intake than normal and lower levels of magnesium in their bones.

Featured Products of the Week

Vitamin D3 capsules

Vitamin D is necessary for utilization of calcium and phosphorus and in many ways acts as a hormone. The two most important forms of vitamin D are cholecalciferol (D3), which is derived from our own cholesterol and ergocalciferol (D2), a plant analogue derived from the diet. The cholecalciferol supplied by the Life Extension Foundation is synthetic, but its form is identical to that which is derived from cholesterol and synthesized by sunlight on the skin. Cholecalciferol is essential for bone growth and maintenance of bone density.

Bone Assure

Bone Assure is a comprehensive formula that can help maintain bone mineral density by:

  • Sustaining bone mineral mass by providing a potent amount of elemental magnesium and a highly absorbable form of calcium (bis-glycinate) that has been shown to assimilate 1.8 times better than calcium citrate.
  • Maintaining the organic bone matrix with the minerals zinc, manganese, silica, and copper that are required for the formation of collagen and other living connective tissues. Manganese has been shown to specifically act as an anabolic catalyst in the development and maintenance of the organic bone matrix.
  • Facilitating the absorption of calcium into the blood- stream by providing vitamin D3. Once in the bloodstream, vitamin D3 then acts as a hormone to direct calcium into the bone matrix.
  • Preventing excessive urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium by providing the trace mineral boron.
  • Lowering elevated homocysteine levels that have been shown to damage the organic bone matrix, by providing small amounts of folic acid, B6 and TMG.

Life Extension Magazine May 2004


Cover Story: The role of nutrition in macular degeneration by Dennis L Gierhard PhD

An eye to the future by Dean S. Cunningham, MD, PhD

A comprehensive guide to preventive blood testing by Penny Baron

Unlocking the mystery of antineoplastons, an interview with Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski by Terri Mitchell

Histone deacetylase inhibitors show promise by Terri Mitchell

As We See It

FDA approves deadly drugs, delays lifesaving therapies

In the News

Vitamins C and E found to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Vitamins C and E boost cognitive function in elderly women, Fiber slows progression of atherosclerosis, Head injury study: melatonin is neuroprotective, Study links depression to omega-3 deficiency, Testosterone supplementation found safe in new report

Questions and answers

Modified citrus pectin, melatonin and more


Conscious talk: radio that makes a difference by Jon VanZile


May 2004

Questions? Comments? Send them to or call 954 766 8433 extension 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
1100 West Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale FL 33309
954 766 8433 extension 7716

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