Nutrition, Vitamin, Supplement News for Senior Citizens

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Seniors like me pose a problem in taking high-dose Vitamin D

JAMA study finds many older adults can’t help but reach for more

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher

Vitamin D pillsJune 20, 2017 - Senior citizens who think like I do are dangerous, and I know there are millions of us. The basic error in our thinking, at least about vitamins and medicines, is that if one pill is good for you and adequate for the job, taking two has got to be better. Wrong! A new report in JAMA points out the problem in a study of adults taking vitamin D supplements.

From 1999 through 2014 the number taking daily vitamin D supplements above the recommended levels increased, and 3 percent of the population exceeded the daily upper limit considered to possibly pose a risk of adverse effects.

A 2011 report concluded that vitamin D was beneficial for bone health but noted possible harm (e.g., abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood, soft tissue or vascular calcification) for intakes above the tolerable upper limit of 4,000 IU daily. And, I must confess, I was among those pressing the limits. I was consistently searching for more powerful pills at a lower cost and had finally settled in on taking two 2,000 IU doses of vitamin D.

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU/d for adults 70 years or younger and 800 IU/d for those senior citizens older than 70 years (that includes me).

Using data from the nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Pamela L. Lutsey, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues assessed trends in daily supplemental vitamin D intake of 1,000 IU or more and 4,000 IU or more from 1999 through 2014.

The analysis included 39,243 participants. The researchers found that the prevalence of daily supplemental vitamin D use of 1,000 IU or more in 2013- 2014 was 18.2 percent; in 1999-2000, it was 0.3 percent.

In 2013-2014, prevalence of daily supplemental intake of 4,000 IU or more was 3.2 percent; this figure was less than 0.1 percent prior to 2005-2006. Trends of increasing supplemental vitamin D use were found for most age groups, race/ethnicities, and both sexes. In 2013- 2014, intake of 4,000 IU or more daily was highest among women (4.2 percent), non-Hispanic white individuals (3.9 percent), and those 70 years or older (6.6 percent).

A limitation of the study is that data were self-reported; however, participants were asked to bring supplement bottles to aid in reporting.

“Characterizing trends in vitamin D supplementation, particularly at doses above the tolerable upper limit, has important and complex public health and clinical implications,” the authors write.

So, it is time that I get control of myself in staying within the prescribed boundaries for the meds and supplements I take and I hope you will join me.

More of the study at Trends in Use of High-Dose Vitamin D Supplements Exceeding 1000 or 4000 International Units Daily, 1999-2014


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