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Vitamin D Gov. Recommendations Should Be Higher, Scientists Say; Can Tanning Help?

KBL megaSun 5600Since 2007, increasingly amounts of evidence have piled up that vitamin D is good for us. One study showed that people with higher vitamin D levels decreased their risk for colorectal cancer. Another study showed that women who combine vitamin D with calcium supplements can reduce their overall cancer risk by 60 percent. So, why is the government reluctant to extol the virtues of Vitamin D by increasing the recommendations?

Official vitamin D policy is set in the U.S. and Canada by the Institute of Medicine. The current recommendations are 200 International Units per day for people younger than 50, 400 for people aged 51-70, and 600 for those 71 and older. However, many experts claim that these recommendations are way too low, especially for those confined indoors and the elderly. For vitamin D to have true disease-prevention capabilities, the levels should be five to 10 times higher - which equates to 1,000 to 2,000 International Units per day.

Three-quarters of teenagers and adults in the United States are expected to be vitamin D-deficient. Why? Because if they are confined indoors or living in climates without much sunlight (UVB light) for much of the year, they have to make up the vitamin D deficiency with nutrition - usually with oily fish, eggs, milk and orange juice. But most Americans don't eat enough of these things, especially in winter months, to maintain levels even close enough to be beneficial.

This article from the Financial Times delves into the science and history of vitamin D and emphasizes the urgency of increasing the recommended levels. It also addresses the possibility of having toxic levels of vitamin D, but the quoted experts say with certainty that getting four times the recommended amount of vitamin D would definitely not be toxic.

Tanning industry professionals already advocate for indoor tanning by arguing that exposure to ultraviolet light in tanning units provides people with much-needed vitamin D. But their argument is often muted by an antitanning lobby from powerful outlets such as the media, dermatologists and government officials. Perhaps waging the war on a different front - the pro-vitamin D front - without the explicit references to tanning might influence the Institute of Medicine to consider raising the recommended levels of vitamin D, which is a victory the industry could certainly stand to tally.

30th October 2009

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