NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Your doctor may soon have a new order for you: lay off the vitamin D and calcium.
A new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine argues that the majority of Americans have the appropriate amount of vitamin D and calcium in their blood and do not need to take supplements.
According to the report, which was commissioned by the U.S. and Canadian governments, some physicians and scientists have in recent years overestimated the amount of vitamin D and calcium that people need.
Researchers analyzed nearly 1,000 studies and found that Americans and Canadians up to the age of 70 should consume no more than 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D and roughly 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Some scientists have suggested that people should consume as much as 4,000 IUs of vitamin D and 2,000 milligrams of calcium a day.
Part of the confusion, according to the study, is that different laboratories use different metrics for vitamin deficiency and sufficiency values and therefore come to different conclusions about patients’ health.
"There is abundant science to confidently state how much vitamin D and calcium people need," said committee chair Catharine Ross in a press release. "We scrutinized the evidence, looking for indications of beneficial effects at all levels of intake. Amounts higher than those specified in this report are not necessary to maintain bone health."
In fact, consuming more than the recommended amount may actually be harmful. The study notes that too much calcium from supplements can cause kidney stones and too much vitamin D can hurt the kidneys and heart. The upper limit for what is considered safe for most people is 4,000 IUs of vitamin D per day and 2,000 milligrams of calcium.
That said, certain groups may require supplements in order to meet their nutritional needs. For example, those older than 70 may require up to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day and pregnant teens may require as much as 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day.