I wouldn’t blame you if you thought so… The U.S. and Canadian governments asked the IOM to look at its inadequate recommendation for vitamin D at 400 IU per day. So the IOM has just come out with its new recommendations. It says that “all North Americans are receiving enough vitamin D” from their diets and exposure to the sun. It also says there is “inconsistent and conflicting results” on whether or not vitamin D protects you from cancer and other diseases.
Let’s set the record straight. There’s overwhelming evidence that increased vitamin D levels lower the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
A four-year study conducted by researchers at Creighton University found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation can help prevent 17 types of cancer and lower your overall cancer risk by 77 percent.(1)
Another extensive study conducted on more than 27,000 patients at the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City found that those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 43 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with normal levels.(2)
In addition, vitamin D is known to help lower the risk of Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, and helps prevent auto-immune disorders like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Best of all, it does all this naturally and with no side effects. But vitamin D doesn’t do all of this at the 400-600 IU level that they just recommended. It only does this at much higher levels. I recommend from 2,000-5,000 IUs.
As for the IOM’s other claims, that people already get enough vitamin D, what about the study from earlier this year, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which found that 75 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D?(3)
It’s also irresponsible to recommend eating fortified foods to bolster your vitamin D intake. Real dietary sources of vitamin D come from animal fats. Fortified milk gives you the synthetic, chemical form of vitamin D2, not the vitamin D3 you need to boost your energy level and maintain a strong immune system.(4)
The same is true of other fortified foods like breakfast cereals, yogurt, margarine and soy beverages. These often contain additives such as inulin, maltodextrose, and polydextrose that don’t provide the same health benefits as foods with natural fibers.(5)
You may already know the benefits of vitamin D and calcium in building strong bones and avoiding skeletal diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis.
The IOM report represents a missed opportunity to spread the good news about vitamin D to more Americans, and that’s a shame.
Here’s what I recommend you do to increase your daily intake of vitamin D and improve your overall health:
- Catch some rays. Get out in the sunlight for 10 to15 minutes a couple of times per week. This is the best way for your body to obtain vitamin D. In fact, just 20 minutes of sunshine can provide you with as much as 10,000 IUs.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D. These include small fish like herring, sardines and anchovies. Organic milk from grass-fed cows is also an excellent source, as are egg yolks, cooked salmon and mackerel, tuna fish and orange juice.
- Try some cod liver oil. Next to sunlight, this is the best source of vitamin D, providing 1,360 IUs in just a single teaspoon.
- Take a good-quality vitamin D supplement. I recommend 2,000 IUs via supplement daily, especially during winter months or if you’re located in a colder, damp climate with less sunlight.
1 Lappe, J.M., et al, “Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. June 2007; 85(6):1586-91
2 “Vitamin D Shows Heart Benefits in Study,” NYTimes.com, 11/16/2009
3 Ginde, A. “Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004,”Archives of Internal Medicine, March 23, 2009; vol 169: 626-63
4 “Vitamin D2 vs. vitamin D3,” The Heart Scan Blog, April 26, 2007
5 “The Pros and Cons of Fiber-Fortified Foods,” Healthy Living (shine.yahoo.com), Dec. 2, 2010
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.