Vitamin D Supplements Bad For Kidneys and Heart

For the past few years, many doctors have been telling their patients to take calcium supplements to insure theyre getting enough of the nutrient which is responsible for strong bones, teeth and muscles. And theyve also been promoting Vitamin D supplements as a way to prevent cancer, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes even heart disease. Well, a new study, just out, takes another look at this advice and concludes its probably wrong for most Americans and Canadians. In fact, some experts are saying too much vitamin D can damage the kidneys and heart.

According to the Institute of Medicine (an independent nonprofit agency which advises the U.S. government ) which did an extensive review of nearly 1,000 published studies on vitamin D and calcium, most Americans need no more than 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day to maintain good health. People over age 70 may need as much as 800 IUs. But this amount is something we get from our diets and from only five minutes of sun exposure.

"When making these new recommendations, we took into account the study data, looking at national surveys of blood levels," Catherine Ross told CNN. She is a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University, University Park, and chairman of the committee that set the recommendations. "The blood levels indicate how much vitamin D you have in your blood, based on the amount of sunlight you are exposed to, how much vitamin D and calcium you have in your diet, and what type of supplements you are taking."

Some adolescent girls may not get quite enough calcium, and some elderly may fall short of the necessary amounts of calcium and vitamin D. But the committee suggests rather than take supplements, these individuals should increase their intake of foods containing the nutrients which include foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna), milk, mushrooms, egg yolks and fortified cereal. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but not everyone receives the same exposure. The Institute recommends minimum amounts of daily sunlight depend on skin pigmentation. White people should get not less than 5 minutes without sunscreen. People of color should get 15 to 20 minutes. There is no recommended maximum. "No one can overdose from sun exposure because of the way the body processes it. And too much of these nutrients in your diet is highly unlikely," noted Ross. The ultimate conclusion? People can take too many supplements. That's why the Committee made these recommendations. Robin Westen writes about health for national magazines. See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.  
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