It is apparent from the number of newly reported cases of rickets that the UK has a severe problem with vitamin D deficiency. The Guardian reports : “England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, is concerned that young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.” It appears that since the free give away of supplements has stopped at clinics that the population is using less vitamin D. I suspect this problem is more than just an awareness problem as it has been pushed by the medical profession for more than five decades that sun exposure is bad for you. The problem in the UK now, as the Guardian reports, is “the hard bit – ideas on how to get more of us to get more vitamin D.” The encouraging news is that he chief medical officer in the UK is aware and feels that new initiatives should take place.
The practice of giving away cod liver oil was stopped in the fifties because it was felt that it was not really needed. How could such an incompetent decision be made? The question now is will there be a new emphasis placed on the deficiency issue here in the US. It seems that the Institute of Medicines decision that a serum level of 20 ng/ml has thrown a real monkey wrench into the works. A level of twenty may prevent the worse cases of rickets, but how do you explain the continued issue of osteoporosis that is ongoing in the US if that is high enough level. At least the committee said that there was no issue with using up to 4000 IU of vitamin D3 per day in children over nine. The real issue is the statements made that a serum level of over 20 ng/ml could be detrimental to your health. Again, this is the confusion over vitamin D2 versus vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is good for rats because they are nocturnal animals. Vitamin D3 is good for humans because this is what our body makes when exposed to UVB from the sun. Normal levels for sun exposed populations range for 54 ng/ml to 90 ng/ml. This is the level required for health. Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are not equivalent!
The question now: Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will you come to the same level of awareness as Dame Sally Davis? How many more cases of vitamin D deficient children with rickets will be taken from their parents because it is mistaken for child abuse? This sad problem falls directly in the lap of dermatologist that have been used by the medical institutions seeking to garner profits from a sick population. Of course the dermatologists plead complete unawareness because the cases of skin cancer have increased. Skin cancer has increased from the use of sunscreen in a real catch 22 that has been played out on the people served by our health institutions. Normally in a situation like this, the Surgeon General of the US issues a statement giving the population the latest health information. This happened with tobacco use in the 1960’s, even though it was ignored by most of the population. So Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin , what are you going to do? I think that you should have a conversation with Dame Sally Davies and start a vitamin D initiative in conjunction with Canada. The US, UK, and Canada taking such an action would bring the rest of the world along.