Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for good health

Health Canada Needs to Get Vitamin D Right…For Our Health

Health Canada indicates a sufficient level of vitamin D is achieved at a blood serum level of 50 nmols/L or 20 ng/ml and recommends 400-800 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day to achieve this blood level of vitamin D. A mathematical error was made when these recommendations were made.

Many studies and peer-reviewed articles, however, claim Canadians are often deficient in vitamin D.

One explanation for this deficiency may be that Health Canada’s current vitamin D recommendation is based on an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report – widely contested because of, among other things, statistical errors.

Asking the Experts

To get to the bottom of the vitamin D confusion the world’s leading experts were asked what they thought were the minimum, maximum and optimum levels of vitamin D serum concentration status that people should be aware of and strive for.

The experts in the video provide the following vitamin D serum concentration ranges.


Vitamin D Status and Serum Concentration Levels

The following chart summarizes the recommended ranges of vitamin D serum concentration by organization.


Learn more about the experts.

The Institute of Medicine’s Contentious Report on Calcium and Vitamin D

Experts agree vitamin D is an important nutrient for our health. Contention around vitamin D arises when trying to determine the optimal recommended daily intake. The debate has percolated over the years, but boiled over in 2010 when the Institute of Medicine (IOM), jointly commissioned by the United States and Canada governments, released a report that concluded people should aim for blood levels of 50 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) which, they indicated, could be achieved with 400 – 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D intake per day.

Many anticipated the IOM’s review of approximately 1,000 studies would result in a much higher recommended daily intake of vitamin D. When the report returned a lower than anticipated recommendation, many researchers and associations – including the Endocrine Society – were shocked and undertook reviews of the IOM’s analysis.

It was through third party reviews of the IOM’s process that errors in the IOM’s analysis were identified. In addition to statistical errors, the IOM has been criticized for its anxiety about too much vitamin D.

“I think the committee (IOM) really overblew the safety issue, in an imbalanced way.” – Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and member of the IOM.

Of the 1,000 studies reviewed there was only one clinical trial claiming risk. In this study elderly women, treated with a single 500,000 IU dose of vitamin D, fell and suffered fractured bones at a higher rate than those in the placebo group. Contributing to the IOM’s anxiety of too much vitamin D, many researchers find this particular study nonsensical and agree it should have been dismissed.

“No one absorbs 500,000 IU a day from the sun, so why would you give that as a supplemental dose?” – Edward Giovannucci, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

New important research demonstrates how wrong the current recommendations are. Breastmilk is the most complete and natural source of food for babies – except it doesn’t have any vitamin D. Vitamin D is the only nutrient that Health Canada recommends to give to babies and to start within a day or two after they are born. But, when mom gets enough vitamin D there is enough for baby in her breastmilk. Mom needs to take at least 6,400 IU/d which is 10 times the amount recommended by Health Canada and the IOM!


“I’ve never been a vitamin taker but a friend of mine had been on the program for a year, and she said ‘You should try it.’ So I did. I really do feel it’s helped with my health. They are a very kind organization. They take time to listen to your concerns.”

Carol Mowbray, Alberta
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