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Guidelines Call for Increase in Vitamin D

Institute of Medicine Wants to Raise the Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin D and Calcium

Upper Levels of Daily Vitamin D and Calcium continued...

“More isn’t necessarily better, and anything over the new upper intake levels may increase risks,” says Committee chair Catharine Ross, PhD, professor and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair of the department of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

The new upper intake levels for calcium are:

  • 1,000 milligrams per day for infants up to 6 months
  • 1,500 milligrams per day for infants 6 to 12 months
  • 2,500 milligrams per day from ages 1 through 8
  • 3,000 milligrams daily from ages 9 through 18
  • 2,500 milligrams daily from ages 19 through 50
  • 2,000 milligrams per day for all other age groups

Recommendations Promote Bone Health

The new vitamin D guidelines only refer to bone health, she says. Ross tells WebMD that that there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin D intake is related to cancer, heart disease, or immune function.

“There isn’t a strong suggestive body of evidence for those indicators,” she says.

Michal L. Melamed, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, reviewed the guidelines prior to their release. She says, “They went high enough given the evidence that is out there.”

“The IOM was cautious, and it is probably the right thing to do because we don’t have large randomized clinical trials that show higher levels of vitamin D are associated with improved health,” she says. “Those studies are ongoing.”

The new recommendations will provide a level of vitamin D that keeps people out of the deficiency range, she says.

Second Opinion

Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine and the author of The Vitamin D Solution, says the new guidelines on vitamin D are “a step in the right direction.”

He hopes that as more information on the benefits of vitamin D comes out “the next committee will be even more convinced of the non-skeletal benefits of vitamin D.”

Robert P. Heaney, MD, a professor of medicine at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., says of the new guidelines: “They are way too conservative. There is evidence to support higher numbers.”

“The good news is that nobody questions the general importance of vitamin D,” he says. “The disagreement is about how much and for precisely what benefit,” he says.

The tolerable upper intake level was raised, he says. “This gives people room to move in which they don’t have to worry about safety.”

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