This week the NY Times article rocked the Vitamin D world with a report from the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) questioning the need for Vitamin D supplements.
The IOC reported most people individuals have adequate levels in their blood supplied by diet and natural sunshine and taking extra Vitamin D and calcium supplements was not indicated. In addition, they stated extra Vitamin D could possibly increase the risk of kidney stones and a variety of illnesses.
On a side note I was formerly the kidney dietitian at UCLA and never once had a patient with kidney stones who had been taking more than the amount of vitamin D in a regular multi-vitamin. Most kidney stones are caused by calcium oxalate stones and linked to excessive vitamin C intake and inadequate calcium intake.
The committee concluded that a level of 20-30 ng/dl is all that is needed for bone health and most individuals are in that range.
What about other types of health? Avoiding diabetes, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases are a few that come to mind. Was the committee of 14 members ignoring the multiple studies that exist showing how optimal levels of Vitamin D (above 50) assist in:
- Lowering insulin resistance and body fat
- Lowering risk of adult onset diabetes
- Substantially reducing colds and flues
- Lowering risks associated with autoimmune diseases
- Lowering risk of pregnancy related complications- gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
- Eliminating rickets
Since we receive very little D from foods and most of us wear sunscreen (anything above an 8 SPF blocks absorption of vitamin D) supplements are necessary. The 400 IU in most multiple vitamins are not meeting most individual requirements.
I’ve been seeing values of 15-25 ng/dl on many Vitamin D levels of my clients. When levels are this low, it is close to impossible to utilize fat which increases body fat and diseases associated with it.
About a year and a half ago I had my levels measured and they were optimal at 57 ng/dl but I started taking 4000 IU to help with aches and pains associated with menopausal symptoms, and some weight gain. The extra D got rid of the pains and helped my weight.
I had my levels measured last week and they were 59 ng/dl. If I had not been taking the supplements I would have dropped to lower levels showing how much my body needed during this transition in life.
Do all people need that much? How much should you be taking? It depends on your current levels, and your health status. Start by having your levels measured and discuss with your health care practitioner how much to take to lower any risk factors. A committee of 14 people does not need to determine the future course of your health. Taking 1000-2000 IU is not going to hurt and can improve your health.
Regardless if vitamin D is not the “apple a day to keep the doctor away” it might be just a factor in keeping disease away and that is a dose I can believe in.