D Buzz

If you’ve been reading the popular press this past year, you were probably convinced Vitamin D was THE answer to all your ills – even some you haven’t yet encountered.  D deficiency had been postulated to cause heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, obesity, probably even the federal deficit. And that was just the beginning. Authors leapt to the conclusion that we’re all deficient and we all need supplements. Red flag time.

This week, the country’s best scientists, specializing in calcium and vitamin D, published their updated report on requirements for the healthy US and Canadian citizen.  Periodic updating of nutrient requirements is done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM); recommendations on calcium and vitamin D were last updated in 1997.  The IOM hears questions, analyzes published studies and research on a specific topic, then gives evidence-based advice.  Ahhhh.  That’s the rub. We tend to enjoy going off on a supplement tear with little or no scientific basis. Weren’t we all supposed to be taking vitamin E?  or was that C?  well, it was definitely selenium that was going to make the BIG difference. None of the supplement fads has quite turned out and this one seems to be no different.

We’ve long known (and have re-affirmed in this report) vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract; calcium and phosphorous are critical nutrients in bone and tooth health.  The sunshine vitamin, as D is called, can be produced in the body when UV light hits your skin. Alternatively you can get it from your diet.

The IOM panel scrutinized 1000 studies and while they did recommend an increase in vitamin D intake to 600 International Units/day they clearly did not see a D-deficient North America. Supplement recommendation for the masses? Not so fast. Those scientists recommend we get our nutrients from food. Milk and yogurt fortified with vitamin D is a good source, canned light tuna is another, and that always healthy salmon is a great source too.

I hate to be Debbie Dietitian but eat a healthy diet, forget the supplements. If you’re elderly or have dark skin (which absorbs less vitamin D from sun exposure), you may want to investigate your intake and requirement along with your physician. But for the rest, enjoy a cold one.

Milk that is. And,

be well,

P.S.  If you have more than a Minute, read the entire report at http://www.iom.edu/

Permanent link to this article: http://marciacrawford.net/archives/d-buzz


  1. Ken says:

    I did note in one of your posts a couple of months ago, and well in advance of the most recent and highly publicized IOM report, that you did say just that…put down the supplements (vitamin D), eat well, and go for a walk. Damn, you dieticians are smart. Good work.

  2. Marcia Crawford says:

    Alternatively, Ken, you could say we're very stubborn – we rarely change our stance on food vs supplements. For people who complain the headlines scream opposing viewpoints from one week to another, I suggest the headline writers are trying to attract attention so why not say something contrary or a bit over-the-top. The truth comes from reading an entire study and the researchers' findings; scientists are a pretty consistent bunch as well. But, those headline writers…stay well, Marcia
    PS I took another look at the "nurses" picture at the Heart Attack Grill, and I agree with your assessment.

  3. Ken says:

    Good point relative to all of science. Hyperbole often wins the day, and, those headline writers are often not science literate. On the other hand, translating a complex science issue or study to the general public in a brief article is a daunting task. It would not do to have the headline read, "Boring nutrition study results reveal very little of interest."
    BTW, I have a sister and a sister-in-law who are dieticians and both are stubborn, but lovely.

  4. Victor says:

    I agree that vitamin D is the answer to all our ills. Without it, diseases like diabetes, heart disease and a lot more might be the problem. We should always take vitamins and Supplements that are necessary for our health.

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