Exercise is more effective in preventing fractures, the leading cause of death from injury in people over 65 years, than the introduction of vitamin D supplements, according to recommendations released Tuesday by US health authorities.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its latest recommendations from 2012 when the independent medical advisory body advocated for the administration of vitamin D supplements to seniors to prevent them from falling.
But the task force noted this year that unless a person suffers from vitamin D deficiency or low bone density like people with osteoporosis, clinical trials conducted on the subject “have not shown any benefit “to prevent the fall of aging people and reduce the risk of fracture.
The USPSTF — which has even seen an increased risk of developing kidney stones in those taking vitamin D supplements and calcium — now recommends physical activity to seniors instead of vitamin D supplements, according to new directives published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The exercise plan should include individual supervised sessions and group classes as well as physical therapy, according to the recommendation.
According to the most recent data, nearly 29% of American adults aged 65 and over reported in 2014 that they had fell at least once, resulting in many fractures. Nearly 38% “required medical treatment or had to restrict their activities for at least one day. Furthermore, some 33,000 people died in the United States following a fall in 2015, according to statistics published in JAMA.
Exercising also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer, according to an editorial accompanying the recommendations.
However, for older people with “increased risk of osteoporosis, those with vitamin D deficiency, or both, it is reasonable to consider supplementation with vitamin D (…) as recommended by other professional bodies such as the American Society of Endocrinology and the National Osteoporosis Foundation,” the USPSTF.