Following on the heels of studies debunking the thought that mega-doses of Vitamin E, Vitamin C or selenium prevent cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, the authoritative Institute of Medicine is reporting today that Vitamin D and Calcium are essential nutrients, but that vitamin supplements are rarely necessary and may do more harm than good. After reviewing more than 1,000 studies on the subject, the panel's advice, which mirrors what The Daily Green has always said: Eat a variety of vitamin-rich foods, and skip the pills.
To underscore the point, the craze that's overtaken America about Vitamin D deficiency is overblown, according to the report:
Confusion about the amount of vitamin D necessary to ward off deficiency has arisen in recent years as tests that measure levels in patients' blood have become widely used. The measurements of sufficiency and deficiency the cutpoints that clinical laboratories use to report test results have not been based on rigorous scientific studies and are not standardized. This lack of agreement means the same individual could be declared deficient or sufficient depending on which laboratory reads the test. There may be an overestimation of the number of people with vitamin D deficiency because many labs appear to be using cutpoints that are higher than the evidence indicates are appropriate. Based on available data, almost all individuals get sufficient vitamin D when their blood levels are at or above 20 nanograms per milliliter as it is measured in America, or 50 nanomoles per liter as measured in Canada.
Many people will get enough Vitamin D (600 iu) from exposure to the sun (Vitamin D isn't a vitamin like others; it's a hormone), and the new recommended intake levels are meant to cover those who get minimal exposure to the sun. Overall, almost everyone in North America gets enough Vitamin D and calcium, but young girls and the elderly are most at risk for deficiencies in one or both nutrients, according to the report.
To see how they stack up against the new recommended intake levels, consult this chart:
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