Over the last few years, many doctors have been recommending their patients take extra calcium and vitamin D for optimal health. However, a panel of experts at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent, non-profit organization, now say in most cases, calcium and vitamin D supplements are unnecessary. In fact, too much of these supplements may put older women at risk for kidney stones and put some some patients at risk for heart disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D is being added to more and more foods and beverages, including breakfast cereals, milk and orange juice. However, most people do not get enough vitamin D from their diets, but have enough of it in their blood. Our bodies make the vitamin naturally, after exposure to the sun, and store it for later use. The experts at the IOM assumed minimal sun exposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer to establish the minimum daily requirement of around 400 IUs of vitamin D per day. Adults 71 and older may need up to 800 IUs due to age-related changes in their bodies. The recommended intake for infants varies from 200 to 400 IUs per day, depending on the age of the child. As for calcium, the IOM found that most people are receiving adequate amounts. They recommend, on average, children aged 1-3 need 500 milligrams per day and children 4-8 need 800. Adolescents and men and women over 71 require 1300 milligrams and 1000 milligrams, respectively.
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