Vitamin D treatment for the prevention of falls in older adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Rita Rastogi Kalyani, Brady Stein, Ritu Valiyil, Rebecca Manno, Janet W. Maynard, Deidra C. Crews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To systematically review and quantitatively synthesize the effect of vitamin D therapy on fall prevention in older adults. DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis. SETTING: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, LILACS, bibliographies of selected articles, and previous systematic reviews through February 2009 were searched for eligible studies. PARTICIPANTS: Older adults (aged ≥60) who participated in randomized controlled trials that both investigated the effectiveness of vitamin D therapy in the prevention of falls and used an explicit fall definition. MEASUREMENTS: Two authors independently extracted data, including study characteristics, quality assessment, and outcomes. The I2 statistic was used to assess heterogeneity in a random-effects model. RESULTS: Of 1,679 potentially relevant articles, 10 met inclusion criteria. In pooled analysis, vitamin D therapy (200-1,000 IU) resulted in 14% (relative risk (RR)=0.86, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.79-0.93; I2=7%) fewer falls than calcium or placebo (number needed to treat =15). The following subgroups had significantly fewer falls: community-dwelling (aged <80), adjunctive calcium supplementation, no history of fractures or falls, duration longer than 6 months, cholecalciferol, and dose of 800 IU or greater. Meta-regression demonstrated no linear association between vitamin D dose or duration and treatment effect. Post hoc analysis including seven additional studies (17 total) without explicit fall definitions yielded smaller benefit (RR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87-0.98) and more heterogeneity (I2=36%) but found significant intergroup differences favoring adjunctive calcium over none (P=.001). CONCLUSION: Vitamin D treatment effectively reduces the risk of falls in older adults. Future studies should investigate whether particular populations or treatment regimens may have greater benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1310
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • elderly
  • falls
  • randomized controlled trials
  • systematic review
  • vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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