November 30, 2010

EAT A BALANCED DIET AND GET OUTDOORS OFTEN, WHO'DA THUNK?:

Report Questions Need for 2 Diet Supplements (GINA KOLATA, 11/30/10, NY Times)

The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit scientific body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much.

The two nutrients work together for bone health.

Bone health, though, is only one of the benefits that have been attributed to vitamin D, and there is not enough good evidence to support most other claims, the committee said.

Some labs have started reporting levels of less than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood as a deficiency. With that as a standard, 80 percent of the population would be deemed deficient of vitamin D, Dr. Rosen said. Most people need to take supplements to reach levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter, he added.

But, the committee concluded, a level of 20 to 30 nanograms is all that is needed for bone health, and nearly everyone is in that range.

Vitamin D is being added to more and more foods, said Paul R. Thomas of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Not only is it in orange juice and milk, but more is being added to breakfast cereals, and it now can be found in very high doses in supplement pills. Most vitamin D pills, he said, used to contain no more than 1,000 international units of it. Now it is easy to find pills, even in places like Wal-Mart, with 5,000 international units. The committee, though, said people need only 600 international units a day.

To assess the amounts of vitamin D and calcium people are getting, the panel looked at national data on diets. Most people, they concluded, get enough calcium from the foods they eat, about 1,000 milligrams a day for most adults (1,200 for women ages 51 to 70).

Vitamin D is more complicated, the group said. In general, most people are not getting enough vitamin D from their diets, but they have enough of the vitamin in their blood, probably because they are also making it naturally after being out in the sun and storing it in their bodies.

The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and other groups applauded the report. It is “a very balanced set of recommendations,” said Dr. Sundeep Khosla, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the society’s president.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2010 3:42 PM
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