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Thursday, December 9, 2010

IOM report on vitamin D is wrong, wrong, wrong

New vitamin D recommendations, released by the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the says that persons between the ages of 1 and 70 do not need more than 600 IU of vitamin D daily. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report also makes what many feel is an outrageous claim that few people are actually vitamin D deficient.

This is the government’s first official vitamin D recommendation since 1997. The IOM’s committee set a new “dietary reference intake” for vitamin D. Assuming that a person gets virtually no vitamin D from sunshine, and that this person gets adequate amounts of calcium, the committee recommends the following:
·         Infants age 6 to 12 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,500 IU/day
·         Age 1-3 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 2,500 IU/day
·         Age 4-8 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 3,000 IU/day
·         Age 9-70 years: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
·         Age 71+ years: adequate intake, 800 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
This raises the recommended vitamin levels from 200 to 600 IU/day for most Americans. However, that is far lower than many doctors and major medical groups have been advocating. The Alliance for Natural Health said the IOM guidelines defy overwhelming scientific evidence that confirms the significant medical benefits of higher vitamin D levels, and that one-third of Americans are vitamin D deficient.

The IOM committee dismissed concerns that many Americans and Canadians are vitamin D deficient, noting that there is no scientifically validated level that's considered optimum. Even so, the panel concluded that for 97% of the population, a blood level of 20 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter is sufficient.

Several major medical groups, including the Endocrine Society and the International Osteoporsis Foundation, have concluded that a level of 30 ng/ml is necessary for optimal bone health. Studies have also shown that at levels below 30 ng/ml, the body seeks calcium for everyday needs by leaching it from

Dr. Michael Holick, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine who testified before the IOM committee, recommends that adults take 2,000 to 3,000 IUs per day and notes that he had done studies giving subjects 50,000 IUs twice a month for six years and seen no harmful effects.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

We know that vitamin D in all forms (sunlight, sun lamps, or supplements) reduces the incidence of respiratory infections. It boosts immune function and suppresses inflammation. Flu viruses (including swine flu) induce a massive inflammatory response that can kill the victim. In other words, it is not the virus that often kills, but the body’s hyper-reaction to the virus in the form of uncontrolled over-production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D down-regulates the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha. As people age, they often over-express these same destructive pro-inflammatory cytokines. The result is chronic low-level inflammation that damages aging arteries, joints, and neurons. By down-regulating excess pro-inflammatory cytokine production, vitamin D can save the lives of those stricken with acute influenza, or the dozens of inflammatory diseases that afflict millions of aging Americans each year.

This is why it is said that vitamin D is more effective than the flu vaccine, which almost everyone except the CDC says is not very effective. This from the British Medical Journal: "The optimistic and confident tone of some predictions of viral circulation and of the impact of inactivated vaccines, which are at odds with the evidence, is striking. The reasons are probably complex and may involve a messy blend of truth conflicts and conflicts of interest…"

Many feel conflicts of interest explain why the IOM made this very conservative recommendation. The Alliance for Natural Health reports:

There is, unfortunately, a hidden agenda afoot. A pharmaceutical company is developing a patentable man-made vitamin D analog – yes, a synthetic drug version of vitamin D. And Glenville Jones, PhD, one of the committee members who determined the new vitamin D guidelines and who is quoted as saying that under these guidelines, most peopleprobably don’t have vitamin D deficiencyand ‘We think there has been an exaggeration of the public’s interest in vitamin D deficiency,’ is an advisor for that same pharmaceutical company.

During the Industrial Revolution, rickets were epidemic in temperate zones where the pollution from factories blocked the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Today, rickets are making a comeback. Headlines tell us the growth of the computer generation and our sedentary lifestyle have led to a vitamin D deficiency and a rise in cases of rickets. The doses recommended by the IOM may be enough to prevent rickets, but are not sufficient to fulfill other important functions.
Studies have linked low vitamin D levels to a higher risk of a slew of chronic health problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancers, auto-immune diseases, infections, osteoporosis, depression and cognitive decline.

Consider this: Humans evolved near the equator and spent days outdoors, allowing the skin to generate ample amounts of this vitamin. About 50,000 years ago, some of our ancestors migrated toward the poles, where winter sunlight isn’t intense enough for vitamin D production. However, their diet of vitamin D-rich fish compensated for the deficit. The new recommended daily dose of 600 IU is equal to just four minutes of mid-day full-body summer sun exposure. About thirty minutes of sunshine would produce approximately 4,000 to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D in many American latitudes, which the new guidelines indicate may be an overdose. Nature knows best.

Today, we don’t get outside much and when we do, we tend to slather on sunscreen which blocks our ability to make D. Cod liver oil is a time-honored source of vitamins D and A; in the first half of the 20th century, school children had to take one spoonful each day.

1 comment:

  1. I am one of those who remembers daily cod liver oil. Cheers to you on your commentary regarding IOM report. My patients a taking 5000 iu Vitamin D daily. One patient whose level started at 22 has had significant return of energy and reduction in pain. Can subclinical hypovitaminosis D masquerade as Fibromyalgia?