I'm still trying to find remedies to prevent falls. Did I tell you why? Really? My father died from a fall. A fall he took in the bathroom trying to make it to the toilet in the middle of the night. The victim of nocturia. On a cold, tile floor. His death certificate read "severe head trauma," but the culprit was nocturia, or waking in the night more than once because of the urge to empty the bladder.
Yes, we can remove the clutter from the floor. Yes, we can add night lighting. Yes, we can do stretching exercises daily to maintain balance and prevent the fall. Yes, we can use medications that reduce the frequency and the urgency. But what else is possible? How do we protect ourselves - and those we love - when the urgency still strikes and the fall still happens?
One of my favorite periodicals is a health letter I receive monthly as a subscriber to Nutrition Action. Published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, its content is well researched and documented. One of the recent newsletters highlighted published research in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2008) revealing evidence that vitamin D can curb some falls.
The preventive health benefit of vitamin D was first documented in prison populations, interestingly. Vitamin D intake was found to have a significant difference in women likely to fall or not. (Those who fell two or more times in a year showed no difference, possibly because they had other disabilities or disabilities that vitamin D alone could not overcome.) Vitamin D may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. Sunlight in general helps to prevent depression.
Roughly a third of all women over age 65 fall each year. Twenty to thirty percent of them suffer a serious injury like a hip fracture. Most will go into rehab therapy and many will subsequently be placed in a skilled nursing facility, away from family and friends.
The point of this article is twofold: first, to advocate nutritional supplements and sunshine (with sunblock) - If you are over age 50, take a daily supplement with at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D to boost muscle strength and improve balance; and second, to advocate taking control over your personal health with behavioral intervention like nutritional medicine. It makes good sense.....and for good health.
Published On: July 23, 2008