Queen's University

Queen's professor co-authors groundbreaking report on calcium and vitamin D


New recommended dietary intake levels for calcium and vitamin D will have a major impact on the way health care workers in North America diagnose the sufficiency or deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

Based on bone health, Canadians need between 600-800 IU of vitamin D and between 700-1300 mg of Calcium each day, according to an exhaustive two-year review of the literature including all major clinical trials and meta-analyses. And most Canadians are getting what they need.

“Evidence supporting the many beneficial effects of vitamin D, such as fighting cancer, autoimmune conditions, and cardiovascular disease, is inconclusive and not consistently supported by randomized controlled trials in which vitamin D is shown to have a positive effect,” says Glenville Jones, Queen’s biochemistry professor and one of two Canadians on the 14-member committee that authored the report.

Greater amounts of food fortification and rising rates of supplement use have increased the chances that people consume high amounts of these nutrients. Getting too much calcium from dietary supplements has been associated with kidney stones, while excessive vitamin D can damage the kidneys and heart.

The study results show that some adolescent girls may not get quite enough calcium, and there is a greater chance that elderly individuals may fall short of the necessary amounts of calcium and vitamin D. These individuals should increase their intake of foods containing these nutrients and possibly take a supplement, according to the report.

“While we know the amounts of these nutrients that are acutely damaging when given for a short period of time, the potential harmful effects of smaller mid-range doses are more difficult to estimate and therefore require some caution in setting tolerable upper limits,” said Dr. Jones.

The study released by The Institute of Medicine was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, and Health Canada. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.

To arrange an interview, please contact Kristyn Wallace at (613) 533-6000 ext 79173 or kristyn.wallace@queensu.ca or Michael Onesi at (613)533-6000 ext 77513 michael.onesi@queensu.ca, News and Media Services, Queen’s University.


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Last updated at 3:43 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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