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IOM Recommends New Dietary Requirements for Vitamin D, Calcium

Dec 03, 2010

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a non-governmental panel of scientific experts, this week released new recommendations on the amount of vitamin D and calcium that individuals need for good health. Basing its recommendations on a strong body of new scientific evidence about bone health, the IOM committee confirmed the importance of vitamin D and calcium in promoting bone growth and maintenance through various stages of life.

IOM was asked by the U.S. and Canadian governments to review the roles of vitamin D and calcium in human health and identify new Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are used in a variety of ways in nutrition and healthcare policy. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services joint committee currently revising the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also will consider these recommendations.

Specifically, the committee's recommendations for calcium ranged from 700 to 1300 milligrams daily depending on bone health and age. The daily calcium recommendations are similar to previous DRI values. In contrast, the committee recommended significant increases in vitamin D for all ages. The committee recommended daily vitamin D intake of 600 international units (IU) for those between the ages of 1-70 years and 800 IU for those older than 70 years; this is a significant increase from previous recommendations of 200-600 IU.

The report also outlined the risks of too much calcium and vitamin D, and took a cautious approach to revising the maximum allowable daily level of vitamin D for adolescents and adults.

Report Creates Some Confusion

Creating some confusion, the IOM report said most people are consuming an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D. This finding appeared to conflict with a recent report of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which noted that calcium and vitamin D, along with potassium and fiber, are considered "shortfall nutrients," meaning Americans are not consuming enough of them in their diets. The Dietary Guidelines committee found that less than 60 percent of American adults aged 31 to 50 years are consuming adequate levels of vitamin D. For this same age group, 70 percent of women and about 40 percent of men are falling short of calcium-intake recommendations.

"The IOM and DGAC reports used different criteria to evaluate the population adequacy for these nutrients and came up with different conclusions," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president for regulatory and scientific affairs

The Dietary Guidelines committee will consider the IOM recommendations, but it remains to be seen how and if they will be incorporated into the final Dietary Guidelines due for release at the end of the year. These new values will not prompt immediate changes to food labeling for vitamin D and calcium, but they will be considered when the Food and Drug Administration undertakes changes to the Nutrition Facts panel in the future.

"The U.S. dairy industry has concerns about how these differing recommendations will be understood by the public," said Frye. "IDFA is working with its dairy industry partners to make sure consumers understand that milk is the most efficient, affordable and available food source of these two nutrients, and that it's more important than ever for Americans of all ages to ensure they are meeting their nutrient-intake recommendations by including three daily servings of nutrient-rich dairy foods in their diets."

Members with questions may contact Frye at (202) 220-3543 or


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