September 2021

What’s New with Vitamin D: Have Recommendations Changed?

Vitamin D has remained in the headlines for some time now. New research keeps piling up, reviewing its potential links to COVID-19, heart health, fall risk, and child development, just to name a few. So has anything changed? Should you be telling your patients to do anything differently from 12 months ago?

In large part, not really. When it comes to COVID-19, small observational studies continue to link low vitamin D levels to poor outcomes. But clinical research hasn’t supported this. And much of the observational research doesn’t account for other factors such as age and pre-existing conditions. If patients ask you about this, recommendations haven’t changed – taking 400-1000 IU daily of vitamin D should result in adequate vitamin D levels for most people.

You might also get questions about infant development. There’s some recent evidence that links low vitamin D levels during pregnancy to reduced mental development in children. But this might only affect those with very low levels during pregnancy. Other evidence shows no link between vitamin D levels during pregnancy and infant motor development. For now, remind patients that it’s important to maintain adequate vitamin D levels while pregnant. But assure them that sticking to the RDA of 600 IU daily is enough to do so. And explain that excessive doses above 4000 IU can lead to complications for the baby.

Lastly, the evidence around heart health and fall risk essentially remains unchanged. Most research shows that taking vitamin D doesn’t reduce the risk for heart disease. When it comes to fall prevention, people who don’t have adequate vitamin D levels should consider taking supplements. But it’s still not clear if other patients will benefit. The overall evidence remains conflicting.

Continue to explain that it’s important for people to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. For people who aren’t able to spend 15-30 minutes in the sun each day, taking a supplement containing 400-1000 IU (10-25 mcg) daily might be appropriate. To learn more about the evidence for other conditions, check out our recently updated monograph.

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