Vitamin D in the Older Adult

Laura A. Stokowski, RN


December 15, 2010

In This Article

The Vitamin D Conundrum

Vitamin D has received a great deal of attention of late in the scientific and lay literature. Scores of mostly observational studies have investigated the possible role of vitamin D in the prevention of chronic diseases ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease to autoimmune disorders. No one doubts that vitamin D is essential to the health of older adults; the abundance of vitamin D receptor binding sites throughout the human genome highlight the pleiotropic nature of vitamin D in the human body.[1] However, this evidence has not consistently translated into proof of clinical benefit, leaving many wondering whether vitamin D supplementation should be recommended for older adults, or if they are fine without it.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released a new report[2] that attempts to clear up some of this confusion, at least as far as is possible with current evidence. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D is the product of a comprehensive review of literature and data on the health effects of vitamin D. On the basis of this review, the IOM has revised its 1997 recommendations for dietary intake of vitamin D to maintain the health of North Americans.


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