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Older adults need twice the recommended amount of vitamin D per day, group says

May 10, 2010 | 10:12 am

Older adults need up to twice the amount of vitamin D than is typically recommended, according to guidelines released Monday by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Bone Concluding a meeting in Switzerland, the group urged adults, defined by this group as 65 and older, to aim for a 25-OHD blood level -- the primary marker for vitamin D in the blood -- of 75 nanomoles per liter. To reach that level, one would need an intake of 20 to 25 micrograms per day (or 800 to 1,000 international units) of vitamin D.

That is significantly greater than the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of 10 micrograms (400 IU) for people ages 51 to 70 and 15 micrograms (600 IU) for people 71 and older. Moreover, the international group cautioned that intakes of up to 50 micrograms or 2,000 IU may be necessary for people who are obese, have osteoporosis, have limited sun exposure or who have problems absorbing vitamin D.

The guidelines also recommended vitamin D blood tests for people who may be deficient. The lead author of the statement, Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University, noted that many people worldwide do not get enough vitamin D.

"This high prevalence of suboptimal levels raises the possibility that many falls and fractures can be prevented with vitamin D supplementation," she said in the statement. "This is a relatively easy public health measure that could have significant positive effects on the incidence of osteoporotic fractures."

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A magnification of healthy bone, left, and bone thinned and weakened by osteoporosis. Credit: PR NewsFoto