Thousands of studies over the last 10 years have shown that high doses of vitamin D are crucial to maintaining health in many areas. The Vitamin D Council, a highly regarded non-profit organization states: “Higher doses of Vitamin D help in many areas of health, among them: heart health, brain health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health, immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and especially fetal health.” (emphasis added)
For this reason, the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has created a tumult for stating that the high levels of vitamin D currently being recommended by many health professionals are unnecessary and may even be toxic (November 2010). The FNB only slightly increased its recommended daily intake of vitamin D from 200 IU to 600 IU. In contrast, Harvard newsletter (December 2010) recommends 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, while the Vitamin D Council recommends up to 5,000 IU a day.
image credit: Mother Earth News
The fact that there is no difference between the amounts of D a 15 pound baby and a 300 pound man should take is deemed “absurd” by experts. When it comes to pregnant women, the FNB also makes no differentiation. But respected vitamin D experts recommend at least 4,000 IU a day, and 6,000 for nursing mothers.
In response to the conclusions of the FNB panel, the Vitamin D Council statement responds:
“Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused on bone health… and ignored the thousands of studies from the last ten years… Tens of millions of pregnant women and their breast-feeding infants are severely vitamin D deficient, resulting in a great increase in the medieval disease, rickets. The FNB report seems to reason that if so many pregnant women have low vitamin D blood levels then it must be OK because such low levels are so common…
“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. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10 points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing with higher amounts — like 5000 IU/day — is crucial for those women who want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future health benefits that go along with it.
“My advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day until your 25(OH)D is between 50–80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the current reference ranges at all American laboratories).
“Gestational vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section.
“Today, the FNB has failed millions of pregnant women whose as yet unborn babies will pay the price. Let us hope the FNB will comply with the spirit of “transparency” by quickly responding to our Freedom of Information requests.”
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
There are 3 ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D: (Vitamin D Council recommendations)
- regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible for 20–30 minutes (being careful to never burn). (Those with dark skin will need longer exposure time — up to six times longer.)
- regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.
- take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.