Why the Fuss Over Vitamin D?

The major function of vitamin D in the human body is to maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphorus by enhancing their absorption in the gut. Although the vitamin is essential, experts estimate that about one billion people are vitamin D deficient, since very few foods are fortified with the vitamin. Deficiency may lead to or worsen osteopenia (soft bones), osteoporosis (brittle bones), muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. There is also some evidence that the vitamin may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type 1 diabetes.

Others at Risk

The American Academy of Dermatology stressed that people with known risk factors for poor vitamin D status may need to get higher doses of the vitamin. Persons at risk include those with dark skin, the elderly, photosensitive individuals, those with limited sun exposure, obese individuals and those with fat malabsorption.

Target Levels

The Academy’s position statement indicates the standard reference intake levels for vitamin D are those set by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM). Currently, IOM recommends that children and adults up to age 50 should consume 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day. Adults between 51 and 70 should take in 400 IU (10 μg), and adults 71 and over should consume 600 IU (15 μg). “The currently recommended adequate intake levels established by the Institute of Medicine may be revised upward due to evolving research on the increasing clinical benefit of vitamin D,” acknowledging that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a daily total dose of 1,000 IU of vitamin D for supplementation of those at-risk for vitamin D insufficiency.

Recently, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doubled its recommended daily vitamin D intake for children and adolescents, citing concern over rising levels of rickets as well as new evidence that higher vitamin D intake may help prevent against a wide variety of diseases. “New evidence [also] supports a potential role for vitamin D in maintaining innate immunity and preventing diseases such as diabetes and cancer,” the new policy reads. The policy increases the recommended vitamin D intake for children and adolescents from 200 IU to 400 IU per day.”The recommendation is going to be essentially a supplement for every child and adolescent in the United States,” said co-author Frank R. Greer, a University of Wisconsin pediatrician.

Parting Words

So what intake should one strive for? There are still conflicting recommendations among major health and medical organizations. Consider this: there is a long history of inadequate recommendation of nutrient intakes in the US. Since the development of dietary guidelines, nutrient intake recommendations have continuously moved upward…by significant amounts. All food intake pattern studies have shown Americans to consistently fall well below ideal intake of essential vitamins and minerals. The old adage of you do not need to supplement, you can get it all from food is no longer practical. Americans have shown again and again that they will not get it all from food. Our goal at dotFIT is to optimize health and longevity, while reducing the risk of developing chronic age related diseases and cancers, based upon available science. Based upon the volume of data regarding vitamin D intake patterns and its importance, dotFIT has included 400 IU of D in its Kids MV (2 tabs), 600 IU in our Active MV (2 tabs) and 1000 IU in our Over 50 MV (1 tab).

–         Scott Pullen, MS, CES, PES

–         dotFIT Fitness and Nutrition Specialist

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