2. Stronger Bones and Muscles
Vitamin D has long been recognized as essential for normal bone formation, largely because it is essential for calcium utilization. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of seniors hospitalized for hip fractures are deficient in vitamin D.
But the problem might not be just weak bones. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, MD, of University Hospital in Zurich, and others have made the case that weak muscles lead to falls and broken bones. The argument has its merits. Vitamin D is needed for normal muscle production and strength, and a lack of the vitamin leads to muscle weakness, a reduced range of motion, and increased physical frailty. With each passing year, seniors are more likely to be affected by sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle, along with osteoporosis. After analyzing 20 studies, which included more than 44,000 patients, Bischoff-Ferrari wrote in Osteoporosis International that 1,800 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D could greatly reduce the risk of falls in seniors. In contrast, the IOM recommended only 600 to 800 IU daily.