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Vitamin D: recommendations increased to 1500-2000 IU per day.....for bone health and more

Posted Oct 30 2010 12:00am
Our Science News arrived in the mail today with an interesting article about vitamin D. It says adults should take 1500 to 2000 IU of vitamin D every day - a big increase over the earlier standard recommendation of 400 IU per day.  Below is the Science News page with the news. Or click here to see it online.


This new advice comes from Michael Holick, a biochemist and endocrinologist at Boston University.  He's spent his career researching the effects of vitamin D (which is actually not a vitamin but a hormone precursor).

Dr. Michael Holick, vitamin D researcher at BU 

My own doctor told me....

A year ago, my personal physician told me to start taking 1000 IU daily of vitamin D, after my blood levels tested too low (19.4).  She told me vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, which is of course important for maintaining bone density.  But after taking 1000 IU every day for a year, I had my blood tested this month, and my vitamin D was just barely within the desired range of 32-100, just  36.4.  I was disappointed. My doc said I needed to shoot for the middle of the 32-100 range.

So I asked my pharmacist...

I asked my pharmacist about it and he said the recommended dose is now 1500 to 2000 IU.  He already knew that - in advance of the new Science News. So I bought a "pill splitter" for $2.17 and now Ken and I are both taking 1500 IU of vitamin D per day.

On the left, our $2.17 pill splitter so we can cut 1000 IU tablets in half and take 1500 IU per day. The bottle of vitamin D on the right is $2.54 for 100 tablets.

More benefits? "Absolutely"

Are there other benefits of vitamin D in addition to increasing calcium absorption?  Absolutely, says Dr. Holick of Boston University (the Science News article).  He says that in a trial of postmenopausal women, taking vitamin D over 4 years reduced their risk of cancer by 60%.

The Science News article also says that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risks of infectious diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cognitive decline, Parkinson's disease, asthma, mood disorders and diabetes. Dr. Holick says a Japanese study found that children receiving 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day reduced their risk of getting the flu by almost 50%.

That's all great. I mainly just want to keep my bones healthy. I can't bask in the sun to generate enough vitamin D; I'm too fair-skinned - I get burned and have had a couple of skin cancers already. Anyway, Ken read today that if you live north of Georgia in the U.S., there is no way you can get enough vitamin D in winter just from exposure to sunlight.  And we do live north of Georgia.

Look around for a cheap brand - the price varies tremendously

So we're taking the 1500 IU per day of vitamin D, and hoping for the best.

Btw, I learned that my local pharmacist keeps an off-brand behind the counter that's much cheaper than the vitamin D brands on his display shelves.  But I have to specifically ask for it, since it's out of sight.  The bottle in the photo is the one behind the counter - it's $2.54 for 100 tablets.  That's a very good price. (The brand is "Major", manufactured by "Major Pharmaceuticals".)

To read the entire interview in Science News with Dr. Holick, click here .

Key words: vitamin D recommended dose bone density bone health vitamin D benefits Michael Hollick
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