Researchers are investigating the link between vitamin D and what makes older people lose balance and fall.
Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living researcher Dr Pazit Levinger said the study was important to learn more about why older people fall in order to prevent it.
"We all know older people who've had a fall – whether it's a neighbour down the street, our own parents or grandparents – and how distressing it can be," Dr Levinger said. "Through this research we hope to prevent some of those falls."
Dr Levinger said 1 in 3 Australians over the age of 65 will have at least one fall each year. Some of these can be serious, resulting in a significant financial impact in hospital visits, broken bones and head injuries, and often psychological distress for the elderly person.
Meanwhile, 1 in 2 people with muscular skeletal problems suffer falls, she said.
"Studies have shown vitamin D reduces the risk of falls through its roles in bone metabolism, performance and muscle function," she said. "Understanding this link better could help a lot of people but especially those with bad joints who are particularly vulnerable to falls."
The study will also investigate whether osteo-arthritis and other conditions are impacted by vitamin D deficiency.
Dr Levinger is now seeking volunteers over 60 years of age, with or without osteo-arthritis, to visit Victoria University's Footscray Park campus once for an assessment and once to a clinic for a free MRI and bone density scan.
Volunteers should not be on vitamin D supplements but multivitamins are not an issue.
For more information or to volunteer please call 9919 5525 or email [email protected]
Available for interview:
Dr Pazit Levinger, Researcher
Institute for Sport, Exercise & Active Living, Victoria University
(03) 9919 5525; [email protected]
Michael Quin, Research Writer
Public Affairs Unit, Victoria University
(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]