Article by Tucker Sutherland, Senior Journal

“Senior citizens who think like I do are dangerous, and I know there are millions of us. The basic error in our thinking, at least about vitamins and medicines, is that if one pill is good for you and adequate for the job, taking two has got to be better. Wrong! A new report in JAMA points out the problem in a study of adults taking vitamin D supplements.

From 1999 through 2014 the number taking daily vitamin D supplements above the recommended levels increased, and 3 percent of the population exceeded the daily upper limit considered to possibly pose a risk of adverse effects.

A 2011 report concluded that vitamin D was beneficial for bone health but noted possible harm (e.g., abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood, soft tissue or vascular calcification) for intakes above the tolerable upper limit of 4,000 IU daily. And, I must confess, I was among those pressing the limits. I was consistently searching for more powerful pills at a lower cost and had finally settled in on taking two 2,000 IU doses of vitamin D.

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU/d for adults 70 years or younger and 800 IU/d for those senior citizens older than 70 years (that includes me).

Using data from the nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Pamela L. Lutsey, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues assessed trends in daily supplemental vitamin D intake of 1,000 IU or more and 4,000 IU or more from 1999 through 2014.”

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