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Elderly patients in assisted living are known to be at risk of having low vitamin D levels because of their comorbidities, reduced exposure to sunlight, and limited intake from food sources. Some studies have shown that giving vitamin D can reduce the risk of fractures and falls in this population, so one group that operates several residential care facilities in Canada (Fraser Health) implemented weekly doses of 20,000 IU for residents over age 65 starting in 2011.
The move was based on a decision from a workgroup of the American Geriatrics Society.
Timothy Green, PhD, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues sampled 236 patients from these facilities a year after supplementation began.
The study was limited, though, because it was cross-sectional — the researchers didn’t look at baseline levels of vitamin D or calcium. Nor did they assess whether higher vitamin D levels translated to better outcomes, such as reduced fracture and fall rates.
Still, they concluded that giving high-dose vitamin D to nursing home patients is “feasible and safe and eliminates vitamin D insufficiency.”