New Vitamin D and Calcium Recommendations: Experts Weigh In
What experts say about the Institute of Medicine's new recommendations for vitamin D and calcium.
Vitamin D Deficiency Overestimated?
Many adults and children were thought to have inadequate levels of vitamin D. But Manson says the problem may be confusion about the definition of adequacy and deficiency.
“It is our opinion that vitamin D deficiency is not as widespread as reported because laboratories across the country are using different cut points that overestimate the number of people with vitamin D deficiency,” Manson says.
The only way to know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to have your blood level checked.
All of the experts interviewed for this story were disappointed the committee did not assess the merit of the huge body of vitamin D evidence beyond bone health.
Sunlight and Supplements
The best food sources naturally rich in vitamin D are cod or fish liver oils, salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp. Vitamin D is also found in egg yolks, beef liver, and mushrooms. Fortified foods -- such as milk, some yogurts, cereals, and orange juices -- also provide vitamin D.
Another option to increase vitamin D levels is to take dietary supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps; however, experts say to be careful.
“Manufacturers are putting more vitamin D in multivitamins and there are some single 5000 IUs vitamin D supplements that exceed the safe upper limit,” Watts says.
“Buy from reputable companies and don’t exceed the safe upper limit unless you are under a physician's care,” Holick says. He recommends children take 1000 IU and teenagers and adults 2000-3000 IUs supplements daily.
The body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. But the IOM committee didn't factor that into the recommendations, because many factors (including, skin color, and geographic location) affect that process. Nor did the committee make any recommendations regarding supplements.
“Individuals need to discuss supplementation with their health care provider,” Manson says.