Institute of Medicine (IOM) Now Wants More Children to be Severely Vitamin D Deficient- WHY?

sunshine2Just published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 2014 is the article, “Prevalence of Risk of Deficiency and Inadequacy of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D in US Children: NHANES 2003-2006”. (You can read it here… ) They found 10% of the US children had levels below 16ng/mL, and 4% more were between 16-20 ng/mL. 

Recall that a 2009 Journal of Pediatrics study defined sufficient vitamin D levels as greater than 30 ng/mL, and found 70% of those ages 1-21 were deficient or insufficient.  Review of the literature shows that less than 1% has optimal levels of 50-80 ng/mL. 

A science daily article quoting Loyola University Health System that quoted the above article is titled “Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D”.  This is a sad and misguided message.  How did this happen?  Well, it appears that the IOM has decided to change the definition of what level constitutes insufficient from 30 ng/mL to 20ng/mL.  If those who were taking vitamin D supplements stop doing so, this will result in half the US population becoming even more deficient than they already are.  

The bulk of the studies on vitamin D show huge cancer reductions, but most of the benefits happen as levels approach 50 ng/mL.  I can find no good reason that the IOM would make recommendations that take us in the wrong direction. I can only assume that this small group of politically well-positioned doctors must have an agenda that differs from that of optimizing our health.  Perhaps they are so removed from integrative medicine, the value of nutrition, preventative medicine that optimizes nutrients and minimizes toxins, that this IOM decision makes sense.

Saying vitamin D levels of 20 ng/mL are OK is like saying a blood pressure of 160/100 is ok. This way you can give fewer people the life saving vitamin D or the life saving blood pressure medicine.  

Don’t be fooled by this ridiculous attempt to minimize the risk of low vitamin D status.  I highly recommend you supplement to vitamin D levels of 50-80 ng/dL.  The upper limits of vitamin D supplementation given by IOM can be found here. I have found 5000 IU daily safe for long term use by teens and adults. Infants over 1 years old can take 1,500 IU daily and once your child is 40 lbs(20Kg), they can start taking 2,000 IU.  5000 IU daily is safe in pregnancy and also results in better levels for infants. 


Dr. Paul


  • I’m curious if this might have something to do with the new healthcare laws and/or medicaid? Would testing and treating low Vitamin D be covered by mandate and this is a way to get insurance companies off the hook (“you have 21 ng/mL. You’re fine! If you want to supplement on your own that’s ok but we only treat people who have below optimum levels of Vit D”)

    Thanks for the great, concise post though. It’s a good reminder to me to make sure we stay on top of out Vit D supplements at home!

    • You may have a point. I personally feel that optimal vitamin D levels are 50 – 80 ng/mL. Plenty of great studies showing increased protective benefits when levels reach 50 (less cancer especially) .

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