Muscle weakness is a hallmark of severe vitamin D deficiency, but the effect of milder vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency on muscle mass and performance and risk of falling is uncertain. In this presentation, I review the evidence that vitamin D influences muscle mass and performance, balance, and risk of falling in older adults. Special consideration is given to the impact of both the starting 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level and the dose administered on the clinical response to supplemental vitamin D in older men and women. Based on available evidence, older adults with serum 25(OH)D levels <40nmol/L appear most likely to improve their muscle performance with supplementation. The vitamin D dose range of 800-1000 IU per day has been effective in many studies; lower doses have generally been ineffective and several doses above this range have increased the risk of falls. In conclusion, older adults with serum 25(OH)D levels <40nmol/L are likely to have fewer falls if supplemented with 800-1000 IU per day of vitamin D.
Keywords: Falls; Muscle mass; Muscle performance; Vitamin D.
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