Expert Report: Vitamin D/Calcium: The Right Stuff?

Topics: Aging and Costs of Aging, Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness and Health
vitamin D levels chart 25 hydroxy

The IOM expert report on Vitamin D and Calcium suggests two changes: increasing your vitamin D intake from 200IU (under age 50) to 600IU daily, or 800IU if you are 71 or older; and not supplementing with calcium.

The new safe daily upper limit of vitamin D is 4000IU; for calcium it’s 2000mg, which increases kidney stone risk.

The IOM believes this much of each is best for bone health. Much of the public and many physicians believe that vitamin D is needed for more than that. People love supplements– and almost half of U.S. adults take them.

Especially in Winter, especially for dark-skinned Americans, vitamin D helps the body’s own immune system fight flu virus and improve multiple sclerosis.

I recommend few supplements, because high quality meals can contain everything you need. But pregnant and nursing women, newborns and the elderly on restricted diets need specific supplements.

Few foods, except wild salmon, mackerel, herring and caviar(!) have much vitamin D; the dairy adds vitamin D to milk, just enough to prevent rickets.

The smartest and safest approach is to have your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level measured. Your doctor can order it, or you can with ZRT lab. The test uses radioimmunoassay, the most accurate testing available.

The IOM thinks your level should be 20ng/ml; many vitamin D experts think it should be 30ng/ml; an independent group of vitamin D researchers (not vitamin sellers) thinks 40ng/ml. Ask your MD.

And check out a new national federally funded Vitamin D/Omega-3 study testing 2000IU daily, for optimal health.

  • DR. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS AS THERE IS SO MUCH CONTROVERSY WITH DOCTORS AND DON’T KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE. WE ALL WANT TO DO THE CORRECT THING BUT SURE MESSES WITH OUR HEADS…I WAS TOLD BY MY DR. TO TAKE VIT D3 AND CALCIUM. ALSO TOLD THAT AN WATER SOLUBLE VITAMIN IS JUST PASSED THROUGH THE URINE AND NO DANGER. ALSO, HOW MANY OF US EAT THE “PROPER” FOODS TO GET THE CORRECT VITAMINS AND MINERALS AND EVEN WHEN WE THINK WE ARE, WE ARE TOLD OUR SOIL IS DEPLETED OF MOST OF WHAT WE THINK WE NEED AND NOT GETTING ANYWAY, AGAIN, WHAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE? I AM NOT A PERSON WHO DRINKS ALCOHOL AND SO THAT LEAVES ME OUT OF RESVERATROL AND SO I TAKE A HIGH END RESVERATROL SUPPLEMENT. ALSO TAKE LUTIEN FOR EYES RECOMMENDED BY OPTHOMOL. DOCTOR. I AM LEFT WITH QUESTIONS COMING AND GOING. TRY SO MUCH TO DO GOOD FOR MY BODY….WHO AM I TO BELIEVE? DR. OZ IS BIG ON SUPPLEMENTS TOO. I FEEL HE DOES HIS HOMEWORK. LEFT HANGING AS MOST OF US ARE. MILLIE

  • Millie, you ask great questions.
    Here are my best answers: not many of us eat an optimal diet, and some food is less nutritious than it it used to be. But eating should be about pleasure and health: you shouldn’t have to choose.

    Some vitamin supplements are helpful for everyone, and I think you’re getting good advice, and are on the right path. vitamin D3 and calcium are often helpful for women, and I recommend them. I also recommend omega-3 supplements, because they’ve been shown to reduce sudden death. Water soluble vitamins (B and C) do pass through your system, mostly, but too much B6 can create side effects as can too much C, so the recommended amounts are best (I cover these in my book). And I too know that Dr Oz does his homework, and I’m a big fan.

    I think if you eat a plant-centered Mediterranean-style diet, and truly enjoy your food, you’re doing the very best you can. Worry less, enjoy more.