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Public Health Surprise: We're Not Vitamin D Deficient After All?

vitamin d deficiency healthy kids

No more D is needed, group says

In a surprising turn of events, yesterday the Institute of Medicine released new recommendations and findings on the much-touted vitamin D. It turns out, we have plenty of it.

These last two years have been big for vitamin D — we’ve been hearing that our kids should get extra, most of us are deficient, and that levels are linked to cardiovascular health, depression, diabetes, and more. Meanwhile, the supplement industry has soared, as people hoped packing in high doses would have protective health effects. Sales for vitamin D jumped 82% between 2008 and 2009, to $430 million.

The IOM was asked by the U.S. and Canadian governments to review 1,000 publications on vitamin D and form new recommendations. Members of the group say they were surprised at the results. Here’s what they now recommend:

According to the  Los Angeles Times, for most of us 400 international units of vitamin D daily is sufficient and 600 IUs are recommended, while no one should exceed 4,000. The previous guidelines set a minimum of 200 IUs and a maximum of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day.

Children 4 to 8 years old should not have more than 3,000 IU/day and those aged 1 to 3 years should not have more than 2,500 IU/day.

The surprising part was that most people’s bodies have vitamin D levels well within that range. We get vitamin D through eggs and fatty fish, and it’s also added to many other foods as well. But our food intake isn’t necessarily enough to meet the recommendations though (which is why many clinicians probably thought we needed supplements). It turns out the sun — even 15 minutes a day — is giving us enough to make up the difference.

Beyond the recommended range, the panel found the data on vitamin D’s health affects (beyond bone density), to be “inconclusive.” This is a really different tune than we’ve been hearing for the last two years.

Have you been told you’re vitamin D deficient, or has your family been taking supplements?

Image:flickr/nathanmac82

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