It should come as no surprise that falls are the leading cause of serious injuries in older patients. According to the American Geriatrics Society, each year about one third of Americans aged 65 and older fall, leading to hospitalizations, admissions into long-term care facilities, and even death.
And while many health problems, including arthritis, poor balance, muscle weakness, poor vision, dementia, and certain medications may increase fall risk, vitamin D deficiency plays a surprising role in older adults’ falls.
Vitamin D appears to reduce the risk of falls in older adults by improving muscle function and strength. How does Vitamin D help? Vitamin D regulates calcium transport into muscle cells, which is necessary for muscle contraction. Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating protein synthesis within muscle cells, which is necessary for building and repairing muscle fibers. Studies show that individuals with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have worse physical function, such as, slower gait and worse physical performance and balance, as well as lower strength. Older adults with vitamin D deficiency also have an increased risk of muscle weakness and bone diseases.