A new report from Tufts University suggests that higher daily doses of vitamin D - between 800 and 2000 IUs - can significantly lower the risk of fractures for both men and women age 65 and older. The research team analyzed 11 separate clinical trials that studied the effect of vitamin D supplementation in more than 31,000 seniors. They found a 30 percent reduction in the risk of hip fractures and a 14 percent reduction in the risk of other fractures among those whose daily vitamin D intake ranged from 800-2000 IUs. The investigators reported that they saw no benefit to taking doses of “D” below 800 IUs daily for prevention of fractures. They also noted that unless older adults are exposed to bright sunlight year-round they need supplements to maintain adequate amounts of “D” and that typical consumption from foods, including tuna, salmon or fortified milk adds up to only 150 IUs per day. Most multivitamins provide only 400 IUs. The study was published on July 5, 2012 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
My take? I recommend a daily dose of 2000 IU of vitamin D, although that amount may increase as research continues. Not only is this vitamin essential for bone strength - and as this new study suggests, for prevention of fractures - research has shown that it may lower risks of a number of serious diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is widespread. It is now estimated that hundreds of thousands of cancer cases worldwide might be prevented each year if we all had adequate daily intakes. Don't be concerned that 2,000 IU will give you too much. With exposure to sunlight in the summer, the body can generate between 10,000 IU and 20,000 IU of vitamin D per hour with no ill effects. In addition, no adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily. Always take your vitamin D with a fat-containing meal to ensure absorption.