FDA Sued For Failing to Mandate Vitamin D Supplementation

You may recall a recent article about the secrets of vitamin D production written by Dr. John Cannell, one of the more popular contributing editors I feature on my Web site as well as the brain trust behind the California-based Vitamin D Council. Late last week, the council filed a lawsuit against the FDA with the Justice Department and the United States Civil Rights Commission.

The suit alleges the agency's food fortification policies discriminates against African-Americans, because they recommend people consume foods such pasteurized vitamin-D-fortified milk. Because many blacks do not drink milk, the council believes the FDA should find better ways to encourage fortification of other foods. (Besides, drinking pasteurized milk isn't healthy for anyone!)

As part of the complaint, the council cites numerous studies about vitamin D deficiencies along with comments from FDA employees who estimate blacks suffer from this problem universally, and far more than anyone else -- as much as eight times more than Caucasians do.

More facts about the vitamin D shortfall among black African-Americans, according to the lawsuit:

  • African-American women of childbearing age were 10 times more likely to deficient than white women.
  • The babies of African-American women were more than twice as likely to suffer from low birth weights than white infants.
  • Eighty-three percent of all American children diagnosed with rickets, due to vitamin D deficiency, over the past 17 years were black.

Typically, many people get enough vitamin D just by exposing their skin briefly to the sun. However, African-Americans require 10 times as much sun to get the same benefit from vitamin D as whites do, according to the lawsuit. That's why I strongly recommend having your blood tested for vitamin D deficiency immediately.

Other than the sun, the best source of vitamin D is a high-quality fish or cod liver oil, which is more important than any supplement because it is an essential food.

New York Times February 25, 2005

Vitamin D Council February 24, 2005

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