Despite mounting pressure to urge several Americans to sharply boost their vitamin D levels, latest government recommendations are not advocating a huge increase in the amount of the "sunshine vitamin" that people get.

The United States and Canada asked the Institute of Medicine, which is division of the National Academy of Sciences, to update the official vitamin D recommendations for the first time since 1997. A 14-member expert committee convened for the task concluded that most Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units of vitamin D per day. The elderly may need as much as 800, the committee concluded.

Before, experts called for children and younger adults get 200 international units a day, adults ages 50 to 70 get 400 and the aged to get 600. But a flurry of research indicating that vitamin D may have a dizzying array of health benefits, and that many people may have insufficient levels, had reignited an intense debate over whether federal guidelines were outdated, leaving millions unnecessarily vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other ailments. Some doctors have begun routinely testing their patients' vitamin D levels and recommeding that people should routinely consume 2,000 or 3,000 international units a day. Sales of vitamin D supplements have raised sharply in recent years.