Vitamin D guideline review: Institute of Medicine planning to re-evaluate daily intake recommendations

October 1, 2008

Acknowledging the relative flood of vitamin D research that's been published in recent years, the National Academies' Institute of Medicine (IOM) has entered discussions with U.S. and Canadian government agencies regarding a re-evaluation of national vitamin D guidelines.

Key Points

This summer, the American Medical Association (AMA) joined a growing chorus of nutritionists, endocrinologists and others calling for the federal government to raise vitamin D guidelines in light of research showing the vitamin's beneficial effects.

On June 17, the AMA urged the IOM's Food and Nutrition Board to re-examine the daily reference intake of vitamin D, which stands at 200 to 600 international units (IU) daily, depending on age.

"It's time to take a good look at the current daily recommended level of vitamin D and ensure that Americans know the appropriate levels, so they can reap the full health benefits," he says.

Scientific rationale

The scientific rationale for the government's existing recommendation is perhaps outdated, because it's based largely on prevention of certain conditions, such as rickets, says Martin A. Weinstock, M.D., professor of dermatology and community health, Brown University, Providence, R.I.

"Since then, we've uncovered other manifestations of suboptimal vitamin D levels that may not have been fully considered when those original recommendations were formulated," Dr. Weinstock tells Dermatology Times.

"We don't have all the evidence we'd like to have to assign an optimal level," Dr. Weinstock says, "but that doesn't mean we should say nothing."

Under review

At press time, IOM staffers were in discussions with relevant federal agencies in the United States and Canada, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about reviewing the amounts of vitamin D and calcium people require, according to Christine Stencel, IOM media relations officer.

"Other organizations may have expressed their interest in an updated review," she says, "but it's the U.S. and Canadian government agencies in discussions about sponsoring a new study by IOM."

Since no study has begun, Ms. Stencel declined to estimate what its duration might be.