Canadian Health Agency Suggests Tripling Intake For Maximum Vitamin D Benefits

{flickr|100|campaign} Do you need to boost your intake of the sunshine vitamin to get maximum vitamin D benefits? According to a new report by Canada’s Institute of Medicine, the answer is almost certainly yes.

The new IOM report, based on more than two years of reviewing vitamin D research studies, suggests that the recommended Adequate Intake of the sunshine vitamin should be 600 IU for people up to age 70 and 800 IU for those over 70. These recommendations triple the previous suggested AI of 200 IU per day for adults.

The IOM report also raised the safe maximum intake of the vitamin to 4000 IU per day for adults, doubling the previous recommended maximum intake level of 2000 IU per day.

Is Supplementation A Must?
Exposure to sun triggers the body to produce the vitamin, but in winter few people in the northern hemisphere get sufficient sun exposure to keep blood levels adequate. But counting on food alone to provide D vitamin is risky because dietary sources are relatively limited, consisting mainly of fatty fish, eggs, beef liver, and dairy products that are fortified with D vitamin.

Though the IOM report stopped short of recommending vitamin D supplements, most experts say it is highly unlikely that the average diet will provide enough of the vitamin to meet the new recommendations, and in fact most physicians and dieticians recommend limiting the intake of meats, eggs, and fatty fish.

While there is no general consensus on whether or not supplementation should be considered essential, many health organizations have suggested that taking D vitamin supplements can have substantial positive effects. For example, in 2007 the Canadian Cancer Society suggested that Canadians consider taking daily 1000 IU supplements throughout the fall and winter, and in 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics said that supplements that boost vitamin D intake to 200 IU per day are beneficial to infants and children.

A Proven Factor In Many Aspects Of Health
Many experts who advocate much higher daily intake of the vitamin, saying that higher dosages are needed to realize the vitamin’s full spectrum of benefits, are lauding the IOM for upping the safe maximum intake.

Long recognized for its importance to bone strength, vitamin D has recently been proven to be essential to many aspects of health. Studies show that deficiency of the vitamin significantly increases risk of colds, flu, asthma, and other seasonal respiratory infections, and it is known to be important to preventing depression and maintaining mental alertness.

In addition, ongoing research indicates that it may also play a crucial role in the treatment or prevention of a host of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, and even some types of cancer.

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