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By: Katie Burns   Date: 11/12/09

Vitamin D is a hot topic in the news these days. I have been intrigued by all its potential health benefits receiving coverage in the media, concerned by the reports of deficiencies and potential health risks, and confused by the variance of intake recommendations.  It led me to wonder, what’s the deal with vitamin D? 
 
Before we dive into the recommendations and health benefits, first let’s explain the "ABC"s of Vitamin D:
 
Dietary Reference Intake (DRI): This is simply a recommendation for intake values of a vitamin for the healthy population from the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine. DRIs can include RDAs, AIs, and ULs, which are all determined by the FNB.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): This is the recommendation provided to a nutrient when there is enough scientific evidence to determine the average amount of a vitamin or mineral needed to maintain good health.
Adequate Intake (AI): When there is not enough scientific evidence to determine the amount of a vitamin or mineral needed to maintain good health, an AI is provided. The AI is just what it seems, an adequate amount of the vitamin or mineral to maintain good health and reap the nutritional benefits.
Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL): The UL is the maximum amount of a vitamin or mineral that a healthy person should consume without experiencing negative outcomes. A healthy person may experience adverse health effects upon consuming more than the UL of a vitamin or mineral.
Institute of Medicine (IOM): The IOM is an independent organization that provides science-based advice and recommendations on health and healthcare issues to policy and decision makers and to the public.
Food and Nutrition Board (FNB):  The FNB is the division of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) that addresses food and nutrition issues and provides “authoritative judgment” on the relationship between food, nutrition, health maintenance, and disease prevention.
 
Vitamin D Recommendations
 
Today some doctors and scientists are recommending that Americans consume up to 20,000 IUs of vitamin D per day; a number 100 times greater than the recommendations by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) for the majority of the population. The FNB currently recommends an Adequate Intake (AI) of 200 IUs for the healthy population. 
 
These recommendations were established in 1997, when it was deemed that there was not enough conclusive science to set an RDA for vitamin D.   It is important to note, however, that the FNB has established a committee of experts to review the DRI for vitamin D. This committee will explore the research that has been published since 1997 and is expected to issue their report, which may update the recommendations for vitamin D, by May 2010.
 
Many news outlets, journals, and magazines are generous in their praises of vitamin D, and often encourage readers to take supplements or consume foods that are rich in vitamin D. However, everyone’s health is different. Remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting any dietary or supplement regimen to ensure you get the benefits and reduce potential risks. 
 
Check back soon, as we’ll explore the health benefits associated with vitamin D in a later post.

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