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Vitamin D Recommendations Changed

The Institute of Medicine tripled their official vitamin D recommendation based on target blood levels that indicate a large percentage of the U.S. population is deficient.

December 5, 2011 |
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How much vitamin D we should get is one of the most controversial areas in the field of nutrition. Up until recently, the Institute of Medicine, the official body that sets the “recommended daily allowances” considered 200 international units a day an adequate intake for those in middle age, but just bumped it up to a recommended 600 a day. How did they come up with the original 200, why did they go to 600, and why are there some experts out there saying we should take thousands a day?
It all apparently started with this line, written more than a half century ago: "Apparently, a dosage of only 100 units of vitamin D daily was sufficient to prevent the flagrant signs and symptoms of rickets,” the bow-legged bone softening disease caused by overt vitamin D deficiency. From a review last year: “The fact that 100 IU of vitamin D prevented overt signs of rickets led to the false security that ingesting twice this amount was more than adequate to satisfy the body’s vitamin D requirement.” Hence the 200 recommendation, but no longer.
The Institute of Medicine decided to take a more scientific approach by basing their recommendation on a specific target blood level, which they calculated to be 20 (ng/ml), which should prevent rickets in children and similar bone softening condition called osteomalatia in adutls. To get most peoples levels up to 20, though, the Institute of Medicine figured it would require about 600 IUs a day, and so the recommendation was officially bumped up.
At the Institute of Medicine’s new target of 20 in the blood, right now 40% of Americans are deficient. And if we use higher cut-offs, say 30, then that proportion climes to more than three quarters of our population.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on vitamin D.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on the New RecommendationsPlant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Vitamin D from Mushrooms, Sun, or Supplements? 

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on vitamin D.

  • David Schmidt

    So 600 iu’s is the correct amount now?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      That’s the official recommendation, but I recommend 2000. I will be laying out my reasoning in videos over the next few days–I hope you stay tuned David! See all my recommendations at:

      • Elley

        I do 2000 mg vitamin D

  • Kamal Prasad

    I noticed that you will cover more Vitamin D in future videos. I hope one of them will talk about the difference between D2 and D3 and the recommended daily dosages for each type if taken as supplements.


    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Such a good question. Taken daily in doses under 2000IU, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) appear bioequivalent (meaning they both work just as well in your body). However if your physician suggests you take large intermittent doses (such as 50,000IU weekly, then D3 is probably superior).

  • David Schmidt

    I could have sworn I watched a previous video by you that recommended 2000 iu’s per day. Am I mistaken?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Yes, please see my answer above. Thanks for paying such close attention!

      • David Schmidt

        I appreciate you so much!

  • The BglLvr

    Can one consume too much vitamin D (i.e.,taking a vit D supplement and a calcium supplement with additional vit D)?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Yes, absolutely. The Institute of Medicine pegs the upper daily limit at 4,000 IU a day and the Endocrine Society says up to 10,000 IU is safe but given that Vitamin D and Mortality May be a U-Shaped Curve I would suggest sticking with 2000 IU unless testing suggests that is insufficient.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on the New Recommendations!

  • mark

    would 200ul of vitamin d be safe in a carbonated beverage

    • mark


    • mark

      thanks Michael prime + is all most finished 4 flavors
      lemon, lime
      all have vitamin and calcium carbonate
      I will send you a sample mark

    • mark

      thanks Michael I will be introducing this product soon
      prime + 4 flavors
      lemon, lime
      and blackberry
      all contain vitamin d & calcium carbonate

    • Susan

      Carbonated beverages are strongly linked to osteoporosis –fragility of bones. Two hundred I.U. of vitamin D is way too low. Most physicians recommend 2,000 I.U. in two doses after a full meal, like breakfast and dinner. Fat in your diet help with the absorption of vitamin D, something I did not know decades ago. Fat can be a handful of seeds or nuts.

    • Susan

      Carbonated beverages are not safe as studies now testify.
      I consume 1,000 IU in two servings twice a day with purified water and eat seeds or nuts for added fat to help the vitamin D adsorb into my blood stream.

  • julia

    Hi, I have breast cancer and bone metaseses . I was taking 2,000 a day but my vit d was high-94 ng. my dr said to lower it. I hear there are differing opinions on what is too high. What do you think? Right now I am doing it every other night but will probably buy 1,000 mg next time.

  • Susan

    Before I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, I began supplementing with Multi-Minerals and vitamins, including vitamin D. At that time, the levels were only 400 I.U. per day. This was prior to 2006, and I swam 1.5 miles a day outside, as well as walked my dog 2 miles a day. I was getting vitamin D from the sun.

    After she passed away with bone cancer, I stopped walking. It was mentally painful to walk alone without her. A combination of not walking, and not getting much vitamin D, is perhaps part of the reason I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2006 after fracturing my hip. Now my PT was at an indoor walking pool, rather than in the sun.

    When I started fracturing my spine in 2012, I was unable to heal and had my vitamin D level checked. The physician told me it was so low that I should take 2,000 per day in two doses immediately. Amazingly, my bones began to heal. As we are on computers for longer hours and working inside, we do not obtain the minimal amount of sunshine on bare skin that we once did years earlier. This no doubt affected the vitamin D levels of numerous people worldwide. But, the medical community was slow to increase their recommendations.

    Now I eat my nuts just before taking my vitamin calcium and vitamin D supplements with meals, and my bones heal much faster than before. Of course, my diet is better too, thanks to the feedback from Dr. Greger, and other physicians here, and the knowledgeable people in this “chat room.” I thank you all!

  • Svetlana

    I bought vitamin D3 and per 1 tablet 85 µg. Can somebody answer how much IU in 85µg?

    • Susan

      1 µg = 40 IU. Do the math.