After a broken hip, seniors who have sufficient vitamin D have better odds of walking, a new study finds.
The study suggests that low levels of vitamin D could limit walking, according to researcher Sue Shapses, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
Nearly 300 patients undergoing hip fracture repair were assessed after surgery in terms of mobility and vitamin D levels. Those with higher vitamin D levels had higher rates of walking 30 days after surgery, according to the study.
Poorer nutritional status was associated with lower levels of mobility. But there was no connection between vitamin D levels and death rates. The study only found associations between vitamin D and mobility, and could not prove cause and effect.
Shapses recommends older adults take 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily to prevent deficiency.
Vitamin D is important for bone health. Vitamin D is in such foods as dairy products, fortified cereals and juices, dark, leafy greens and fatty fish. It's also in vitamin pills. The body also makes vitamin D when you are exposed to sunlight.
"An important next step is learning how vitamin D affects mobility," Shapses said in a Rutgers news release. "For example, it is not clear if severe vitamin D deficiency is associated with direct effects on muscle, cognition and/or other organ systems."
A broken hip is among the most serious fall injuries and is hard to recover from. Many people are unable to live on their own afterward.
More than 300,000 American seniors are hospitalized for broken hips each year and falls cause more than 95% of these fractures, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
To learn more about hip fracture, visit the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.