Vitamin D and Calcium: Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) Update

You can still get your vitamin D from this.

For several months dietitians and other health experts have waited for today: the release of the new Dietary Reference Intake (DRIs) for Vitamin D and calcium.

The recommendations come from the expert committee convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) two years ago.

The conclusion: nearly everyone in the U.S. and Canada are “in range” for their vitamin D levels and don’t need high amounts of supplemental vitamin D. The updated recommendation:

  • Vitamin D: 600 IU/day for children and adults, with 4,000 IU as the upper limit. Adults over 70: 800 IU/day
  • Calcium: 1,000-1,200 mg/day for healthy adults 18-71+ years.

Many of us (dietitians) thought the vitamin D recommendations would be higher because we often see patients/clients with low vitamin D levels. However, 14 members of the expert committee reviewed the data and published research to come to their conclusion.

For several years we have heard of the many potential benefits of vitamin D , including improved immune system function which may cut the risk of many cancers and even the flu. However, the IOM committee found that while vitamin D and calcium are great for bone health, the evidence isn’t so strong for other health conditions.

Much of the public believes that “more is better” with certain nutrients. This is not always true, and may even be harmful. In some people, higher levels of vitamin D are  necessary to improve low-Vitamin D status, but in people who are not deficient, more is not necessarily better.

If you are unsure about your vitamin D status, get a blood test from your primary care provider. After you know your status, it can then be determined if you need extra vitamin D, above the 600 I.U. Follow your doctor’s recommendation, or ask for a referral to a registered dietitian who can help you improve your vitamin D and calcium intake through food.

You can get your vitamin D from the UV rays of the sun or consume these food sources of vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna
  • Whole eggs (vitamin D is in the yolk)
  • Mushrooms
  • Liver and fish liver oil, but not often recommended

What are your thoughts on the Vitamin D recommendations?

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