You may have seen a story in the news recently about the “big” changes in vitamin D recommendations pumped out by the prestigious Institute of Medicine…
In summary, they concluded that the majority of people in North America, from age 1 to 70, now “require 600 IU’s of vitamin D daily to maintain health”—regardless of current vitamin D status, regardless of overall health status, regardless of sun exposure, regardless of nutritional intake, and so on and so forth. To me, confusion lies within the notion that a 1-year-old requires the exact same dosage as a 29-year-old new Mom who’s breastfeeding, who also requires the exact same dosage as a 70-year-old immobile patient who never goes outside for sunshine and anyone and everyone in between. Quite the cookie-cutter healthcare mentality by such a prominent health organization, wouldn’t you say?
There are a number of studies pointing towards 200 to 600 IU’s/d as the bare minimum needed to prevent Rickets. So regarding the 600 IU’s/d “to maintain health”… wonder what exactly they mean by “health?” This simple yet oh-so-complex term can mean a whole lot of different things to a whole lot of different people—is it merely the absence of diseases such as rickets or is health the epitome of an optimally functioning person with the whole kit and caboodle? (The latter being the definition I prefer!)
This new value is slightly higher than the RDA of 400 IU’s previously mandated by the government. They go on to say that a serum level of 20 ng/mL is adequate to maintain bone health. Stop right there. This article upon first perusal seems to be a blanket generalization of vitamin D usage for overall health (remember “in order to maintain health”) but in actuality, they’re only analyzing this important pleiotropic, wanna-be hormone in the context of bone health. What about all of the other facets of health it may affect? What about the handful of scientific literature pieces that point towards D as having an effect on over 200 genes, and the poor little cellular and physiological processes en route to Rickets and cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and more?
While it’s a great idea to keep up with all current research streaming out, and this article indeed includes some heavy hitters like Holick, IofM, & NCI, this particular piece is misleading and unfortunate. It’s important that we maintain a watchful eye and dissect articles to ensure we are reading them for what they are worth.
Two more bones of contention… notice how they mention milk over and over? This is the same group of professionals who believe cow’s milk remains the end-all, be all and that there’s no way it could be correlated to any health dysfunction or maladies. Lastly, we are not winning the war on cancer, so for NCI to make such a bold statement regarding D as having no effect is interesting to say the least. Again, there are a number of articles that point towards the contrary.
This is no time to get blasé about vitamin D, so we’re hoping this recent newsflash doesn’t discourage individuals who are in need to take adequate doses. Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad, so frequent monitoring of Vitamin D levels should be completed. Let us know what you think. Feel free to chime in!
- Diagnosis & Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency. Expert Opinion Informa UK 2008 by Cannell, Hollis, Zasloff, Heaney
- Estimation of optimal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for multiple health outcomes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006 by Bischoff-Ferrari, et al
- Evolution of our understanding of Vitman D. Nutrition reviews by DeLuca
- Circulating vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in humans: An important tool to define adequate nutritional vitamin D status. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 2006 by Hollis, Wagner, Drezner, Binkley
- Vitamin D Deficiency. The New England Journal of Medicine 2007 by Holick