Medium doses of daily vitamin D decrease falls and higher doses of daily vitamin D3 increase falls: A randomized clinical trial

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2017 Oct;173:317-322. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2017.03.015. Epub 2017 Mar 18.


Falls are a serious health problem in the aging population. Because low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased fall rates, many trials have been performed with vitamin D; two meta-analyses showed either a small effect or no effect of vitamin D on falls. We conducted a study of the effect of vitamin D on serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) and data on falls was collected as a secondary outcome. In a 12-month double blind randomized placebo trial, elderly women, mean age 66 years, were randomized to one of seven daily oral doses of vitamin D or placebo. The main inclusion criterion for study was a baseline serum 25OHD<20ng/ml (50nmol/L). A history of falls was collected at baseline and fall events were collected every 3 months. Results showed that the effect of vitamin D on falls followed a U-shaped curve whether analyzed by dose or serum 25OHD levels. There was no decrease in falls on low vitamin D doses 400, 800 IU, a significant decrease on medium doses 1600, 2400,3200 IU (p=0.020) and no decrease on high doses 4000, 4800 IU compared to placebo (p=0.55). When compared to 12-month serum 25OHD quintiles, the faller rate was 60% in the lowest quintile <25ng/ml (<50nmol/L), 21% in the low middle quintile 32-38ng/ml (80-95nmo/L), 72% in the high middle quintile 38-46ng/ml (95-115nmo/L) and 45% in the highest quintile 46-66ng/ml (115-165nmol/L). In the subgroup with a fall history, fall rates were 68% on low dose, 27% on medium doses and 100% on higher doses. Fall rates on high doses were increased compared to medium doses (Odds Ratio 5.6.95% CI: 2.1-14.8). In summary, the maximum decrease in falls corresponds to a 12- month serum 25OHD of 32-38ng/ml (80-95nmol/L) and faller rates increase as serum 25OHD exceed 40-45ng/ml (100-112.5nmol/L). The Tolerable upper limit (TUL) recently increased in 2010 from 2000 to 4000 IU/day may need to be reduced in elderly women especially in those with a fall history.

Keywords: Clinical trial; Falls; Vitamin D supplementation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Cholecalciferol / blood
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / blood
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D