Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels associated with falls among Japanese community-dwelling elderly

J Bone Miner Res. 2008 Aug;23(8):1309-17. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.080328.


Previous studies have shown that low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level is a risk factor for falls among the elderly in European and North American populations. We used a cross-sectional community-based survey to study the association of serum 25(OH)D level and falls among Japanese community-dwelling elderly. A total of 2957 elderly persons (950 men and 2007 women) 65-92 yr of age who participated in mass health examinations for the prevention of geriatric syndrome for the elderly underwent an interview, blood analysis, and physical performance testing. Experience of falls over the previous year was assessed in an interview. Physical performance tests of handgrip strength, stork standing time with the eyes open, and normal waking speed as risk factors for falls among the elderly were conducted. Serum albumin and 25(OH)D concentrations were analyzed. Mean 25(OH)D concentration was significantly lower in women than in men (p < 0.001). Women showed a significant decline of 25(OH)D level with increased age (p < 0.001). There was also a significant difference in the prevalence of 25(OH)D insufficiency [25(OH)D level < 20 ng/ml] between the sexes (p < 0.001). The rate of falls was significantly higher in the lowest quartile of 25(OH)D level in women (p = 0.02) and in women with 25(OH)D insufficiency (p = 0.001). Women also showed significant declines in all three fall-related physical performance tests. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed significant and independent associations between 25(OH)D level and experience of falls in women only (p = 0.01). Low 25(OH)D level was significantly associated with a high prevalence of falls in Japanese elderly women because of their inferior physical performance. Low serum 25(OH)D levels appear preventable and easily treated; there is an evident need for greater awareness to screen and thus prevent this condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Serum Albumin
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Serum Albumin
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D