The Great Vitamin D Debate

Over the past decade there has been a lot of conflicting advice about the benefits of vitamin D and calcium.

Like many of our readers, this confusion has left us pondering: How much milk should we be drinking?  Are supplements really necessary? Can we get all the vitamin D we need from the sun?

We were therefore very interested to read the results of The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recently released review on dietary reference intakes for the vitamin D and calcium. Their latest recommendations were based on a review of more than 1,000 studies and reports as well as testimony from scientists and stakeholders. Interestingly, the IOM looked at a range of health outcomes, far beyond bone health.  These included, but were not limited to, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, falls, immune response, neuropsychological functioning, physi­cal performance, preeclampsia, and reproductive outcomes.

Although they acknowledged that both are important for health, overall, the committee concluded that the majority of Americans are receiving adequate amounts of both calcium and vita­min D.

Perhaps more interestingly, they warned that more than 2,000 mg of calcium per day increases the risk of kidney stones. Likewise, very high levels of vitamin D (above 10,000 IU per day) are known to cause kidney and tissue damage.

So at the risk of upsetting the vitamin industry, we’ve decided to save our money and our kidneys. From now on we’ll be getting our daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D by drinking milkshakes in the sun!