Lynn DiTaranto, Department of Public Health.
Lynn is a Nutrition Education Specialist with DPH.
It seems like nutrition recommendations are constantly changing. Even I – a nutritionist! – get confused and frustrated when one study seems to contradict another. The most recent example of this is all the talk about vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a well known nutrient that is paired with calcium in the importance of bone health. In the past, vitamin D was thought to be nothing more than calcium’s wingman. Recently, though, vitamin D has been the nutrient “du jour”. Because it interacts with almost every cell in the body, there are many hypotheses that low vitamin D intake could be linked to a range of conditions and diseases.
Some scientists believe that most of us don’t get enough vitamin D—especially adolescent girls, the elderly and those living in areas with a longer winter. Why might we come up so short? Sunlight exposure is the number one source of vitamin D, but with only a few months of summer sun and lots of sun protection, it’s difficult to naturally absorb the recommended amount. Also, there are only a few foods such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel that naturally contain vitamin D.
So here’s the rub. A new report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that the average American does have enough vitamin D circulating in their bloodstream. This may be because people are able to store whatever vitamin D they are making after sun exposure, or because people have been taking a multivitamin or vitamin D supplement with all of the vitamin D promise in the press.
The report also highlights that new nutrient guidelines suggest most people need to consume no more than 600 – 800 IUs of vitamin D a day to maintain health—a contradiction to the high levels of 2,000 IUs (or more) that has been recommended by some researchers and can only be achieved by taking supplements. The IOM report also concludes that, based on a review of high-quality research studies, high doses of calcium and vitamin D are not necessarily linked to greater health benefits.
So what is a person to do? Here’s my take. The bottom line is that eating healthy foods that contain calcium and vitamin D are important to boost bone health. Almost all milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D and so are a growing number of other food items such as breakfast cereals, soy beverages, yogurt, orange juice, and margarine. Check your food labels for details! While the jury may be out on vitamin D supplements, a typical multivitamin will give you a safe vitamin D boost while also increasing your intake of important nutrients—just in case your diet isn’t always perfect.
How do you feel about the latest vitamin D dilemma? What do you do to wade through all the press about nutrition? Let us know what you have to say. We’d love to hear from you!
How do you know if your child is seeing clearly? posted on Mar 28
Massachusetts law requires that all children have a vision screening or comprehensive eye exam done before starting kindergarten. Many children experience vision problems and this can have an impact on their ability to learn in school and at home. We wish and hope that our …Continue Reading How do you know if your child is seeing clearly?
Weekly Flu Report, March 24, 2017 posted on Mar 24
The latest weekly flu report shows that rates of flu-like illness increased slightly in the past seven days, following a drop in those rates during the previous week. Flu can be unpredictable, but the one thing we know for certain is that flu season isn’ t over …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, March 24, 2017
Slow and Steady Wins the Race! posted on Mar 20
How to achieve your healthy lifestyle goals this National Nutrition Month! By Campbell Reiff It’s March, and you know what that means – spring is here! March is not only the month for the change in seasons, but is also National Nutrition Month! This month, the …Continue Reading Slow and Steady Wins the Race!