Home Instead Blog

Older People need Vit D to help avoid falls & fractures
Apr 27, 2012

Studies done on Irish adults aged 50+ have shown that that there is a chronic deficiency of Vitamin D in this age group.  The EFSA ( European Food Safety Authority) has confirmed the importance of taking Vitamin D to help reduce the risk of falling and fractures in older people (60+). 

The primary source of Vitamin D is sunshine but given Ireland’s northerly latitude and constant cloud cover, unfortunately, sunshine does not make an appearance here for many months of the year!

Many people are aware that Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium by the body.  However,  it also affects muscle function and strength.  As we age, it becomes more difficult to obtain and make Vitamin D - an elderly person has a significantly reduced capacity to produce Vitamin D in the body by comparison to a younger person.

Gaye Godkin, Consultant Nutritionist to Home Instead Senior Care, advises that the best sources of dietary Vitamin D in the diet include:
Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout
Lambs liver
Tinned fish such as sardines
Cheese, yoghurt, butter and fortified milk

Gaye recommends a diet high in both fresh oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and fresh tuna) and tinned fish as it has other  health benefits also.   But - relying on food sources will not provide sufficient Vitamin D daily.    Gaye tells us, “National nutrition surveys have shown that the consumption of Vitamin D from food  is very low -  ranging from 144iu to a maximum of 288iu daily - but the minimum daily requirement to prevent falls and ultimate fractures is between 800iu – 1000iu of Vitamin D.  So, unless enormous amounts of the foods listed above are consumed, this minimum will not be reached without taking a supplement”

“If and when the sun does shine, we all should aim to expose our arms and legs for 15-20 minutes per day or consume a supplement of Vitamin D daily - particularly during the winter months,” she concludes.