The Institute of Medicine's very recent report on the importance of vitamin D and calcium has unleashed a storm of media coverage among those that are accepting the report as gospel (mostly mainstream media) and those who are furious that all their hard work in promoting the use of vitamin D for optimum health has now been dismissed (mostly natural health media).
The Health Ranger of Natural News says
“Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine finally got around to reluctantly admitting that people need more vitamin D. Raising the daily intake recommendation from 200 IUs to 600 IUs still leaves most people pitifully vitamin D deficient, and a flood of scientific research that has emerged over the last four years reveals that vitamin D deficiency causes cancer, osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders and depression.
While the Institute has conceded that more research and studies are necessary, it makes the point that many Americans are getting sufficient vitamin D and calcium from their diet, their exposure to sunlight and from taking supplements.
Yes, this may be true among those Americans who have educated themselves by reading natural health material so that they are living a more balanced and natural lifestyle and getting the nutrients they need.
However, we know the high percentage of overweight and obese that exists among the general population in the US. If they are eating a highly processed diet, working indoors and enduring a typical North American winter, there is no way that they are getting enough vitamin D or calcium. We know that most people are not getting enough sunlight even in the summer months. They have been so indoctrinated to slap on the sunscreen and cover up in the sun at all times, that many are getting no sunlight at all. It is sunburn that is dangerous – not sunlight. A sensible 15 to 20 minutes in the sun on a daily basis (when possible) will top up your vitamin D levels and build up a very gradual tan on the skin to protect from sunburn.
My own experience
I am fortunate enough to live where there is sunshine for the majority of the year – winter and summer – and I have always followed a sensible approach to enjoying my 20 minutes in the sun just about every day. There is no need for me to take vitamin D supplements. But if I lived in a colder climate, then I would take them. The darker your skin is, the longer you need to be in the sun because dark skins have a natural sun block. This is why it has been found that African Americans living in extreme cold climates of the US and Canada are so vitamin D deficient.
It would seem that the Institute of Medicine
is basing its findings on an ideal population who are eating correctly and generally looking after their health. They say:
“Most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine.
Some of the mainstream media have reported some doubts
The New York Times said that Andrew Shao, an executive vice president at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group, said the panel was being overly cautious, especially in its recommendations about vitamin D. He said there was no convincing evidence that people were being harmed by taking supplements, and he said higher levels of vitamin D, in particular, could be beneficial.
The Los Angeles Times reported that “Harvard University researchers are enrolling 20,000 subjects for a study to compare rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression and respiratory diseases in people randomly chosen to receive a daily dose of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D versus other subjects who get a placebo. Ongoing trials in Israel and India will assess how a year's worth of monthly supplementation with 10,000 IUs of vitamin D affects the development of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes in obese women, and with what side effects. A University of Colorado study will compare rates of respiratory infections among elderly nursing home patients taking as much as 4,000 IUs of vitamin D a day compared to those taking a smaller dose of 400 to 1,000 IUs daily”.
The Scottish view point
Ironically, this week the Scottish Government has said through their Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon: "Vitamin D is key to maintaining healthy bones. Young children have a high risk of deficiency and we are seeing an increase in reported cases of rickets in Scotland. These conditions are easily prevented by improving diet and taking a supplement if you are at risk. Recent research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may also contribute to a range of other medical conditions. The Scottish Government is keen to continue to monitor this evidence
So it would seem that the Institute of Medicine is definitely not having the final say on this subject as much as they would like to.