Vitamin D research continually validates that everyone take at least 2,000 IU/day. More to the point, the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels should be, at a minimum, 30ng/mL. The Vitamin D Council actually advocates blood levels between 50 and 80ng/mL. The Council says to get there, first take 5,000 IU/day for two or three months, then get a blood test from your doctor and adjust the dosage to get the blood levels in sync.
So why, then, did the official recommendations for everyone living in North America determine that 600 IU/day for most adults was enough, and that everyone in North America is just fine, thank you?
And, since vitamin D is mostly acquired from exposure to sunlight, wouldn’t it make common sense that people living in more northern latitudes (hello, Canada) have far less vitamin D levels than those living in Florida? To say nothing of the fact that darker-skinned people get less vitamin D from sunlight than lighter-skinned people.
So why didn’t the Institute of Medicine at least mention that some ethnic groups, and people living north of certain latitudinal lines – some say Tennessee, others New York City – need more help attaining higher levels?
Even the new 4,000 IU/day upper limit, while double what it was previously, is viewed by many as being too restrictive, thus curtailing research, commercial development and optimization of nutritional policy. A report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, in accord with vitamin D researchers, said 10,000 IU/day is appropriate.
Could the new IOM report have anything to do with Canadian health-care costs? Earlier this year the Canadian government expressed concern that the government was spending too much money on patient vitamin D tests, which have skyrocketed 20-fold in the past five years as news emerged on the importance of vitamin D to a range of health conditions.
Others say forces at work include the American regulatory apparatus, which is charged with protecting the pharmaceutical industry. According to the Vitamin D Council, current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease and more.
The Vitamin D Council filed a Freedom of Information request to get the opinions of the 14 vitamin D researchers whose views were solicited for the panel’s report – opinions that appeared to have been wholly disregarded. What do those opinions say?
"This is hardly investigative journalism," said Robert Heaney, MD, a vitamin D researcher at Creighton University in Nebraska who was not part of the panel but was one of the vitamin D researchers who did give the panel his views. "There were no day-to-day vitamin D scientists on the panel, and the working vitamin D community says they’re off base."
The vitamin D commentariat speaks out
"For reasons that I don't understand, the panel members deliberately chose to ignore a large body of published information regarding the effects of vitamin D on cancer, cardiometabolic disease, obesity, autoimmune disease and mood regulation, and instead focused almost exclusively on studies related to bone health. They also failed to make the case that vitamin D supplements are toxic in the dose ranges currently being recommended (2,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily)." –Robert Rountree, MD, a medical author and practicing physician in Boulder, Colo.
"The Food & Nutrition Board increased vitamin D requirements by such a marginal amount as to condemn North Americans to certain levels of preventable chronic illness. If populations in Northern Europe were to achieve adequate vitamin D3 levels (40ng/ml) this would save 17.7 percent in health-care costs per year. If these statistics can be extrapolated to the United States, the U.S. would save about $4.4 trillion in health-care costs over the next decade." –Bill Sardi, health journalist
"Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women. " –John Jacob Cannell MD, executive director, Vitamin D Council
"Such a conservative increase for the nutrient lags behind the mountain of research demonstrating a need for vitamin D intake at levels possibly as high as 2,000 IU/day for adults." –Andrew Shao, Ph.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition