In a double-blind study involving community-dwelling elderly subjects (mean age = 77 years), results indicate that combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation may be more effective than calcium supplementation alone in reducing the risk of falls and improving muscle function.
The participants received 1000 mg/day calcium or 1000 mg/day calcium + 800 IU/day vitamin D for a period of 12 months. The participants were followed up with (no supplementation) for another 8 months. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation was associated with 27% and 39% reduced risks of first falls at month 12 and 20, respectively, compared to calcium supplementation alone.
Additionally, calcium plus vitamin D supplementation was associated with an 8% increase in quadriceps strength, a 28% decrease in body sway, and an 11% decrease in time needed to perform the TUG (Timed Up and Go) test.
Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “Combined calcium and vitam in D supplementation proved superior to calcium alone in reducing the number of falls and improving muscle function in community-dwelling older individuals.”
Reference: “Effects of a long-term vitamin D and calcium supplementation on falls and parameters of muscle function in community-dwelling older individuals,” Pfeifer M, Dobnig H, et al, Osteoporos Int, 2008 July 16. [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Institute of Clinical Osteology “Gustav Pommer” and Clinic “Der Fürstenhof”, Am Hylligen Born 7, 31812, Bad Pyrmont, Germany