A new report from the Institute of Medicine has recommended tripling the daily dosage of Vitamin D from 200 IU's established in 1997 to 600 IU's for everyone from infancy to 70 years of age. 800 IU's is recommended for those over the age of 71.
This is still a far cry away from suggested levels which have been indicated by hundreds of studies correlating vitamin D deficiency to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancers, infections, depression, diabetes and more.
These new levels are based off of research showing strong correlations towards maintaining sufficient bone strength. Patsy Brannon, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and member of the Institute of Medicine states,"The evidence for bone health is compelling, consistent and gives strong evidence of cause and effect."
The panel also raised the acceptable upper limit daily intake to 4,000 IU's per day, up from 2,000 IU's per day. The majority of published studies linking vitamin D deficiency to chronic health issues recommends higher doses such as the one previously mentioned. New research indicates that 5,000 IU's per day is essential for maintaining proper blood levels.
Dr. Michael Hollick, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine was happy to see the panel raise the recommended dosage but stands by higher levels of supplementation based off of a continuous stream of research indicating the benefits of higher dosage. He said that given the fact that vitamin D is a hormone which regulates over 2,000 human genes and affects virtually every organ in your body, it makes sense that these new studies are finding significant correlations. He recommends adults take 2,000 to 3,000 IU's per day - he also notes that he has performed studies giving subjects 50,000 IU's twice per month for six years with no harmful effects. He states "there is no downside to increasing your vitamin D intake, and there are more studies coming out almost on a weekly basis."
My concern lies within the variables associated with these recommendations. How can an 8 lb newborn child require the same amount of vitamin D as a 55 year old, 205 lb male? What about the inconsistencies with sun exposure? The use of statins which decrease your bodies ability to convert to D3? If you work in an office all day long, take statins for cholesterol or use a ton of sunscreen when you're outside odds are you might be on the lower end of the vitamin D scale.
Either which way you look at it, one thing is clear; increase your vitamin D! The best thing you can do is have your blood levels checked and supplement accordingly. During the winter months and flu season supplement with a higher dose due to a decrease in sun exposure. There is no doubt there is a seasonal stimulus associated with the flu and a wide variety of conditions.
As always, check with your health care provider to see if a high dose regime is right for you.
Neurology: January 13, s004;62:60-65 - The most widely read and highly cited peer-reviewed neurology journal
Journal of the American Medical Association: December 20, 2006 pp. 2832 - 2838
Is there a connection between the intake of vitamin D and multiple sclerosis? Multiple studies seem to think there is. Here are some valid reasons to suggest the importance of getting out in the sun!
Here are some key points taken from the Neurology study:
1.) The incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) is low in the tropics and increases with distance from the equator in both hemispheres. Sunlight exposure and the resulting increase in vitamin D may exert a protective effect against MS.
2.) Individuals with MS tend to have insufficient vitamin D levels
3.) Periods of low vitamin D precede the occurrence of high MS lesion activity, and periods of high vitamin D precede low MS lesion activity, as detected by MRI.
4.) This study found that women who used supplemental vitamin D had a 40% lower risk of MS than women who did not use vitamin D supplements.
5.) Taking vitamin D supplements for more than 10 years lowered the risk of developing MS by 59%
Here are the key points from The Journal of the American Medical Association study:
1.) High levels of vitamin D, a potent immunomodulator, decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis.
2.) "A protective effect of vitamin D on MS is supported by the reduced MS risk associated with sun exposure and use of vitamin D supplements.
3.) "MS risk was highest among individuals in the bottom quintile and lowest among those in the top quintile of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels."
4.) "Nutritional vitamin D status could be key in innate immune response."
5.) "Increasing the vitamin D levels of adolescents and young adults could result in an important reduction in MS incidence. Such an increase could be achieved by using vitamin D supplements."