THE leading cause of death in the over-75s is from simple falls and a new study in the US indicates that use of vitamin D tablets can help the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, which strengthen bones.
In the UK, it is estimated by the NHS that almost one third of those over 65 and half of those over 80 fall over at least once a year.
The main source of vitamin D is through the reaction of sunlight on the skin and many of the elderly have insufficient as they spend little time outdoors. The American researchers found in their first tests that vitamin D levels had increased noticeably and they now want to expand the trials to cover a large group of people.
A lack of vitamin D is believed to cause osteoporosis, a bone-thinning condition that occurs during middle-age and seems most common in women. It has also been linked to pain or weakness in the bones in adults and rickets in children.
As a word of caution, however, researchers in New Zealand are of the opinion that such supplements do not have any major benefit. One thing that seems to be agreed by all is that eggs, some breakfast cereals and fish containing oil can be good additional sources of this vitamin.