The Pendulum Swings... More vitamin D and Calcium not Better

Based on review of approximately one thousand published clinical studies (who has time to read that much?) the Institute of Medicine recently updated their recommendations for daily intake of vitamin D and calcium for bone health. They specifically desire to counter the widespread hype about an “epidemic” of vitamin D deficiency. Included in their recommendations is that a vitamin D screening blood test should not be part of routine medical care unless special risk factors are present.

Regarding vitamin D intake, their conclusion is that 600 IU/day meets the needs of most children and adults ages 1 through 70, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Over 70 this can be increased to 800 IU/day. This is irregardless of sun exposure, which stimulates vitamin D production in the skin, since this is too difficult to determine for a population and also concerns about skin cancer risk.

Regarding calcium adults ages 19-50 years old need 1000mg/day. Those over 50 should consume 1200mg/day. Each 8 ounce serving of dairy products contain approximately 300mg. Many people find they cannot consume enough calcium in their diets, so they take a supplement. These are better absorbed if taken twice a day. Chewable forms are often more appealing than pills and can be conveniently placed near one’s workspace as a reminder.

It is surprising that vitamin D requirements don’t vary as much by age as we previously thought and that more of either supplement is not better. Learn more about bone health and calculate your risk of breaking a bone.