Vitamin D has long been valued for its role in preventing rickets and building strong bones. Vitamin D has also been associated with the prevention and treatment of diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and immune system disorders. The latest research shows that vitamin D is also beneficial in preventing heart disease.

A growing number of studies support the idea that low levels of vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and that adding vitamin D supplements can help reduce this risk. Several large trials to learn more about this connection are underway, although there is not yet any conclusive evidence.

How Much Vitamin D do I Need?

It is well established that 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day is necessary to prevent rickets, but an overwhelming number of physicians and researchers believe this level is too low to help achieve optimal health and reduce the risk of disease. They say the Institute of Medicine (IOM) should consider revising their current vitamin D recommendations, which are below:

  • 200 International Units IU per day for adults age 50 and younger
  • 400 IU per day for adults aged 51 to 70 years
  • 600 IU per day for adults aged 70 years.

It is not clear just how much vitamin D is needed for increased health and disease risk reduction. However, many physicians are now recommending 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU daily for most adults. Your doctor can determine how much vitamin D you need, and it is important to talk to him/her before increasing the amount of vitamin D in your diet. Too much vitamin D can cause the body to absorb too much calcium, which can cause kidney stones or damage.

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