On behalf of U.S. and Canadian governments, the Institute of Medicine—part of the National Academy of Sciences—updated the recommended daily intake of vitamin D to 600 IU per day for most adults, saying the elderly may need as much as 800 IU a day of the “sunshine vitamin.” These new official recommendations fell short in the eyes of many scientists and doctors. But others see it as an affirmation of the health benefits of vitamin D and the need for higher blood levels in populations that live in northern regions.
“While an increase in the recommendations for vitamin D will benefit the public overall, such a conservative increase for the nutrient lags behind the mountain of research demonstrating a need for vitamin D intake at levels possibly as high as 2,000 IU/day for adults,” according to Andrew Shao, Ph.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN.
The Institute reviewed nearly 1,000 previously published studies to reach their conclusion. The committee found that vitamin D and calcium—two of the most popular natural health food products in vitamin health stores across the U.S. and Canada—indeed play an important role in maintaining strong, healthy bones, and they also made clear that further research was needed and warranted. And while the sun is the best vitamin D source, the new recommendations do not call for increased sun exposure due to worries over skin damage.
Finally, the report also recommends doubling the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) from 2,000 IU per day to 4,000 IU per day for healthy adults, although this is being under-reported in the press. Remember, dietary guidelines are established for the entire population based on the average need of healthy adults. Experts still agree that each individual may have unique and varied requirements, so always check with your primary healthcare provider.
For further information concerning this new study, which also discusses dietary calcium needs and calcium supplements, check out the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s response to the Institute of Medicine’s report here. You can also read another nice recap of this new study and the new recommendations in this Healthy Library article, which also includes tips on getting enough vitamin D!
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