Television news programs, newspapers and the Internet are all full of recommendations of how to lead a healthier life. They recommend specific foods, vitamins and all sorts of dietary supplements. But it’s important to look toward research-based facts to understand what your body really needs.
It turns out the federal Institute of Medicine (IOM) is recommending that you up the dose of two nutrients in particular – calcium and Vitamin D.
Cornell nutritionist Patsy Brannon recently served on an IOM panel that issued new recommendations for calcium and vitamin D consumption. The report triples the recommended vitamin D intake for most healthy people from 200 to 600 international units (IUs) per day. It also caps the suggested vitamin D intake at 4,000 IUs per day, citing links between elevated vitamin D blood levels and adverse effects, including kidney and tissue damage.
The panel making the recommendation was composed of 14 physicians and nutritionists from the United States and Canada, who reviewed more than 1,000 studies and reports and consulted many scientists and stakeholders.
The updated recommendations will influence food policy on many levels, including U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for school meals, nutrition information on food packages and the content of rations eaten by soldiers in the field.
Even with the sharp increase in daily intake levels, the panel found that few people in the United States or Canada lack adequate vitamin D, in part because sunlight provides enough of the nutrient to overcome dietary deficiencies.
“Contrary to the highly publicized epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in America and Canada, the average American and Canadian is meeting his or her needs for vitamin D,” Brannon told the Cornell Chronicle for a story.
The findings also counter recent studies suggesting that insufficient vitamin D levels may be linked to a host of chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart and cardiovascular disease.
“The evidence available is inconsistent, with some studies demonstrating this association while others show no association, and still others show evidence of adverse effects with high blood levels of vitamin D,” Brannon said. “Thus, it is not possible to conclude whether there is an association of low vitamin D with chronic disease or not.”
For a complete listing of recommended intakes by age group and gender, click here.
As an aside, the Cochrane Collaboration has conducted several systematic reviews on Vitamin D supplements for specific medical conditions. They’ve found that: