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More is not always better when it comes to vitamins and supplements.

A good example is vitamin D supplement.  It is well known that vitamin D supplementation is very important for our overall health.  However, at least in the elderly, there may be additional risks to be considered associated with dosage.

A randomized research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine by Doctors Bischoff-Ferrari, et. al. in 2016 has shown increased risk of falls in high dosage of vitamin D supplementation during the trial.

This study’s objective is to determine the effectiveness of high-dose vitamin D in lowering functional decline.  200 men and women over the age of 70 participated in the study. All of the subjects had a low trauma fall in the prior year. In this study, the standard dose of vitamin D3 per month was considered to be 24,000 IU (equivalent to 800 IU per day). Patients who were taking this dose had improvement in lower extremity function and the lowest risk of falling again.  However, patients who were taking a higher dose showed no improvement in lower extremity function and were more likely to have a second fall.  To cite the authors conclusion, “Although higher monthly doses of vitamin D were effective in reaching a threshold of at least 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, they had no benefit on lower extremity function and were associated with increased risk of falls compared with 24 000 IU.”

This study underscores the importance of consulting your primary medical doctor before taking supplements.  We tend to think of supplements as being harmless. However, supplements should be thought of as medications.  In addition, supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA so there is more reason to consult your doctor or your healthcare provider and research details of the supplements you consider taking.


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