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Living Well: New info on calcium, vitamin D

Created date

January 25th, 2011

Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report outlining new information about calcium and vitamin D requirements. Turns out that some Americans may not need as much as the medical community originally thought. The IOM conducted a thorough review of studies on potential health outcomes with regard to both calcium and vitamin D. They found that although these nutrients play an important role in bone health, there is no evidence that they are necessarily beneficial for other health conditions. And in some instances, too much calcium may be related to the formation of kidney stones. New information about daily requirements has been released because of the IOM review. But before you stop taking your supplements or change your dosages, it is important to know that for older adults, vitamin D and calcium are still essential especially for strong and healthy bones. Regarding calcium, men up to age 71 require on average 800 milligrams daily. Women over 50 and both men and women 71 and older should take about 1,000 milligrams per day. For vitamin D, the IOM concluded that younger Americans need on average 400 IUs daily (vitamin D is measured in international units or IUs ), and that the majority of the population is meeting its needs for vitamin D.

As you get older

People 71 years of age and older, however, may be at increased risk for getting too little, and typically need 800 IUs of vitamin D per day because of a variey of changes that come with age. Laboratory tests for vitamin D levels have become more common in recent years and can be helpful in determining the right amount of supplement you should take. That s why it s important that you review with your doctor before deciding how much vitamin D is good for you, based on your health status and other testing. The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different, and requirements for calcium and vitamin D should be tailored to meet your individual needs. The risk of having weak bones is too high, so please talk to your doctor to determine what is best for you. In good health, Dr. Narrett
Matt Narrett, M.D., is chief medical officer for Erickson Living and directs the provision of medical care at all Erickson Living communities. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. He is coauthor of Old Is the New Young, a guide to successful aging (available on