WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Under the latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, it's possible that almost 80 million Americans who've previously been considered as having low levels of vitamin D don't need supplements of this nutrient at all, according to a new study.
Older guidelines had suggested that anyone with a blood level of vitamin D that was less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) needed to boost their levels, but the newer Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines say that a minimum level of 20 ng/mL is sufficient.
However, not all experts agree with the new guidelines from the IOM, a nonprofit American organization that dispenses health advice.
"The IOM guidelines are so different than the Endocrine Society's guidelines that this study will just add to the controversy," said lead study author Dr. Holly Kramer, an associate professor of medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. "We really need clinical trials to settle the whole issue, but what's clear is that these threshold levels make a huge difference in how many people would be taking vitamin D."
The Endocrine Society is an international group of endocrinologists.
Why worry about your vitamin D intake? Vitamin D is essential for good bone health, and it's necessary to prevent the disease known as rickets. The nutrient has also been implicated as potentially beneficial for a number of conditions. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher risks of some autoimmune diseases, and may make people more susceptible to infection.
In addition, noted Dr. Robert Heaney, a professor of medicine at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., low vitamin D has also been associated with high blood pressure, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome -- a group of symptoms that signal higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Heaney is a member o
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