Bad Vitamin D Recommendations for Bone Health

Vitamin D is a key nutrient in bone health, and treatment against osteoporosis, here is the origin of the conflicting advice.

Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a thousand page report on vitamin D and it’s importance. Unfortunately, some news organizations have misinterpreted the conclusion of the report and are publicizing how individuals should do the opposite of what their research has shown. This is both dangerous and unfortunate.
The New York Times headline: Extra Vitamin D and Calcium Aren’t Necessary, Report Says (November 29, 2010)

Chemical structure of cholecalciferol, aka vit...

Vitamin D3, chemical structure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other news organizations have picked up on this story and are giving the same advice, however this conclusion is the opposite of what the report recommends, as the report actually concluded that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) has actually increased. This report raised the determined healthy blood level of vitamin D  to 20 (nano grams per deciliter) but most researchers preferred 32. Having a level below 20 has a host of adverse effects including increased mortality from all of the following:
• Increased risk of developing osteoporosis
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Increased risk of autoimmune diseases
• Increased risk heart disease
• Depression
• Increased risk of various types of cancer
The IOM actually reflects its recommendations in terms of IU per day. whereas previously the RDA of 200 IU/day would bring an average North American inhabitant to a blood level of 6.6, now increasing the vitamin D RDA through the third decade of live from 200 to 600 IU/day and for adults in the 4th to 7th decades from 400 to 600 IU/day. For those over age 71 the RDA was raised to 800 IU/day. So all adults under 71 should get at least 600 IU/day and those over 71 at least 800 IU/day. The report showed how most in North America are already getting enough vitamin D even to the new standard, but the old standard needed to be raised as it was an inaccurate recommendation.
The IOM report also addresses concern regarding higher blood levels, as some studies have indicated increased mortality/cancer rates among individuals with the highest blood levels of vitamin D which, vary from study to study between 40 and 100. The report also states that not enough research has been done on the dangers of high levels of vitamin D to be conclusive, and that more research is needed to determine the proper exact maximum value. The report currently raises the upper RDA from 2,000 IU/day to 4,000 IU/day for adults and stated in the body of the report that an intake of 10,000 IU/day was not likely to be harmful. Interestingly enough, this higher level would be seen as an adaptive response in a typical North American inhabitant spending a day in the sun without sunblock.
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