Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Strength, Physical Performance, and Falls in Older Persons: A Systematic Review

Authors

  • Nancy K. Latham PhD,

    1. From theClinical Trials Research Unit
    2. Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
    3. Center for Rehabilitation Effectiveness, Sargent College, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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  • Craig S. Anderson PhD, FRACP,

    1. From theClinical Trials Research Unit
    2. Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • Ian R. Reid MD, FRACP

    1. Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • This research was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Craig Anderson holds the New Zealand Freemasons Chair of Geriatric Medicine. Nancy Latham is supported by a National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Health Services Research (H133P99004).

Address correspondence to Nancy Latham, PhD, Center for Rehabilitation Effectiveness, Sargent College, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Ave, Room 649, Boston, MA 02215. E-mail: nlatham@bu.edu

Abstract

Objectives: To identify, appraise, and synthesize data from randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation in older people.

Design: A systematic review of trials identified from searches of databases, reference lists, review articles, and recent conference proceedings.

Setting: Most studies performed in ambulatory setting.

Participants: Older people (mean age=60).

Interventions: Vitamin D or vitamin D metabolites.

Measurements: Strength, physical performance, or falls.

Results: Thirteen trials involving 2,496 patients met this study's inclusion criteria. Most of the trials were small and had methodological problems. In 10 trials, there was no evidence that vitamin D or vitamin D metabolites had an effect on falls or physical function, but three trials showed a positive effect of vitamin D in combination with calcium. When available data from the four highest quality trials were pooled (n=1,317), there continued to be no evidence that vitamin D reduced the risk of falling (relative risk= 0.99, 95% confidence interval=0.89–1.11), although a single trial of vitamin D and calcium showed a positive effect.

Conclusion: Although there is insufficient evidence that vitamin D supplementation alone improves physical performance in older people, some data suggest a benefit from vitamin D combined with calcium supplementation, but this requires confirmation in large, well-designed trials.

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