Most Americans up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units of vitamin D daily, but those older may need more, new vitamin D recommendations say.
A report released Tuesday by the National Institutes of Health, part of the National Academy of Sciences, says 600 IUs daily meets the needs of almost everyone in the United States and Canada, but adults age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day due to aging.Â The 14-member committee charged with updating vitamin D recommendations — for the first time since 1997 — said it took into account nearly 1,000 published studies as well as testimony from scientists and stakeholders.
“There is abundant science to confidently state how much vitamin D and calcium people need,” committee chairwoman Catharine Ross of Pennsylvania State University, says in a statement. ” Amounts higher than those specified in this report are not necessary to maintain bone health.”
The committee says 700 milligrams per day meets the needs of almost all children ages 1-3 and 1,000 milligrams daily is appropriate for almost all children ages 4-8. Adolescents ages 9-18 need no more than 1,300 milligrams per day, while practically all adults ages 19-50 and for men until age 71 need 1,000 milligrams daily. However, women at age 51 and men and women age 71 and older need no more than 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day, the report says.
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What is vitamin D and what does it do?
How much vitamin D do I need?
It depends on your age. Here are the amounts people of different ages should get on average each day, listed inInternational Units (IU):
|Birth to 12 months||400 IU|
|Children 1—13 years||600 IU|
|Teens 14—18 years||600 IU|
|Adults 19—70 years||600 IU|
|Adults 71 years and older||800 IU|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding teens and women||600 IU|
What foods provide vitamin D?
Only a few foods naturally have vitamin D. The best source is fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and mushrooms provide smaller amounts. You might be able to get recommended amounts of vitamin D by eating a variety of foods with plenty ofÂ fortified milk and fatty fish.
Almost all milk in the United States is fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per quart. Vitamin D is also added to some breakfast cereals and brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, andÂ soy beverages (check the productÂ labels).
Can I get vitamin D from the sun?
The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. But when out in the sun for more than a few minutes, wear protective clothing and useÂ sunscreen (with anÂ SPF of 8 or more) to lower theÂ risk ofÂ skin cancer. In the winter months in the northern half of the United States, the sun is not strong enough for the skin to make vitamin D.
If you avoid the sun or cover your body with sunscreen or clothing, make sure you get enough vitamin D from food or take aÂ supplement. When you’re indoors, sunlight on your skin coming through window glass is not strong enough to make vitamin D.
What kinds of vitamin D dietary supplements are available?
There are two forms: D2 and D3. Both raise vitamin D levels in the body.
Am I getting enough vitamin D?
People with dark skin, older adults,Â obese people, and people with someÂ digestive disorders (likeÂ Crohn’s disease orceliac disease) may not get enough vitamin D unless they make a special effort. Breastfed infants should be given a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU each day.
Vitamin D can be measured in the blood to learn whether your levels are too low, too high, or somewhere in between. It’s not yet clear what levels of vitamin D in the blood are best for good health.
What happens if I don’t get enough vitamin D?
Vitamin DÂ deficiency causesÂ rickets in children, where the bones become soft and bend. It is rare but sometimes occurs, especially in African American infants and children. In adults, vitamin D deficiency causes bone pain and muscle weakness. Adults who don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium can develop weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
What are some important links between vitamin D and health?
Scientists are studying vitamin D to see how it affects health. Here are a few examples of what this research has shown.
As they get older, men and women can develop weak andÂ fragile bones, a condition called osteoporosis. Supplements of both vitamin D and calcium can reduce the risk of bone loss andÂ fractures in elderly people. Talk with your healthcare provider about vitamin D and calcium as part of a plan toÂ prevent orÂ treat osteoporosis as you age.
Some studies have tried to find out whether getting more vitamin D can affect the chances of developing cancers of theÂ colon,Â breast,Â prostate,Â pancreas, and other parts of the body. It’s too early to say whether low levels of vitamin D affect one’s risk of cancer.
Can vitamin D be harmful?
In healthy adults, vitamin D atÂ doses up to 4,000 IU is safe. (The safe amount is 1,000 IU for infants in the first six months of life and goes up as you get older to 4,000 IU in children age 9-13 years.) When taken as a supplement at very high doses, vitamin D can cause nausea and vomiting, confusion, and serious heart problems. Vitamin D made in the body from sunlight does not rise to dangerous levels.
Does vitamin D interact with any medicines or dietary supplements?
Bottom line: Tell your doctor,Â pharmacist, and otherÂ health care providers about anyÂ dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements mightÂ interact or interfere with yourÂ prescriptionor over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might affect how your body uses vitamin D.
Where can I find out more about vitamin D?
- Office of Dietary Supplements Health Professional Fact Sheet on Vitamin D
- Office of Dietary Supplements Consumer Fact Sheet on Vitamin D
- Vitamin D Content of Selected Foods Per Common Measure
- For advice on buying dietary supplements, see theÂ Office of Dietary Supplements Frequently Asked Questions
- For information on the government’s food guidance system, seeÂ MyPyramid and theÂ Dietary Guidelines for Americans
This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.