Institute of Medicine sets new dietary intake levels for calcium, vitamin D

December 14, 2010

The majority of Americans and Canadians are getting enough vitamin D and calcium to meet their needs, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

The majority of Americans and Canadians are getting enough vitamin D and calcium to meet their needs, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Most people up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day, and those 71 and older may need as much as 800 IUs, reporters found. The amount of calcium needed ranges from 700 to 1,300 milligrams per day, based on age.

The report updates the nutritional reference values, known as Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), for these interrelated nutrients. The first DRIs were established in 1997.

The reporter's recommendations take into account nearly 1,000 published studies, as well as testimony from scientists and stakeholders. A large amount of evidence reviewed by the committee that wrote the report confirmed the roles of calcium and vitamin D in promoting skeletal growth and maintenance, and the amounts needed to avoid poor bone health.

The committee also reviewed hundreds of studies and reports on other possible health effects of vitamin D, such as protection against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. While these studies pointed to possibilities that warrant further investigation, they yielded conflicting and mixed results and do not offer the evidence needed to confirm that vitamin D has these effects.

Government agencies in the United States and Canada sponsored the study.