Recommended Daily Calcium and Vitamin D Doses Increase in US & Canada

We have a mega dose of news about Vitamin D this weekend. We’re trying our best to report accurate information here, but the headlines are deceiving. And the specific recommendations by age in the report are inconsistent by source. We’ll check back after Tuesday, when the report is released to the public. The following comments are generally consistent among the media reports.

On Tuesday the Institute of Medicine will release a report that triples the recommended amoung of vitamin D from 200 IUs to 600 IUs, in people under 50.

The report notes that some populations are likely to need more Vitamin D, including breastfed babies, people with dark skin and those living in northern latitudes like Sweden where daylight exposure is limited.

The experts also change recommended daily calcium intake to between 700 for younger people and about 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily, for women over 50.

The WSJ suggests that doctors probably won’t be happy with the new recommendation. Sales of vitamin D rose to $425 last year, a 10-fold increase from $40 million in 2001.

The increased recommendation of 600 IUs of Vitamin D for people under 50 is determined based solely on its necessity for strong bones. The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, said there’s not enough research to justify connecting vitamin D to chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, prostate, breast and colon cancers, auto-immune diseases, infections, depression and cognitive decline. That’s quite a list.

The new recommendations establish an upper limit of 4,000 IUs of vitamin D for adults, from 2,000 previously. The calcium upper limit is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Concerns about skin cancer and premature aging, coupled with long work days and less exposure to sunlight, have created a perceived vitamin D deficiency in much of the developed world’s populations.

France 24 comments on the new guidelines, writing that the experts testify that about 1,000 studies on the supposed links between low vitamin D levels brought inconsistent results, “sometimes due to shoddy research methods.”

Most people “probably don’t have vitamin D deficiency, that is the first message,” said Glenville Jones, a Canadian doctor who was on the 14-member committee for the US-based Institute of Medicine.

Jones didn’t rule out the possibiity that higher levels of vitamin D will be recommended, based on solid science.

The National Institutes of Health has begun recruiting 20,000 men and women over age 60 for a nationwide clinical trial to study whether taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D, or omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, out performs the placebo any better than a placebo at lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Several group including the Endocrine Society and the International Osteoporosis Foundation presently advocate higher levels of vitamin D.

Without supplements, we get 90 percent of our vitamin D from sunlight. A Swedish doctor has studied the sun exposure habits of 40,000 women in Sweden, concluding that the benefits of sensible sun exposure far outweigh the negatives.  via AOC FP