The New York Times has published today a long article about the controversial views on vitamin D in the scientific community and its economic implications. One of the most fervent supporters of vitamin D, convinced that it brings high benefit and that there is a deficiency pandemic of it in the Western world, especially among young people, is endocrinologist Dr. Michael Holick, from Boston University. Holick has been stressing the importance of vitamin D level monitoring for decades, since a lack in this vitamin results in fragile bones and diseases such as rickets. The pro-Vitamin D campaign has helped the incredible development of food supplement industry, which has reached $937m in 2017.
The same tests to determine Vitamin D concentration have exponentially increased, to the extent that they generated revenues of $347m in 2016. However, the NYT finds it highly suspicious that Holick has been a consultant to Quest Diagnostics, which performs vitamin D laboratory tests, since 1979 and, of course, the company has greatly benefited from his work. Moreover, Holick is said to have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies linked to tanning lamps and analysis laboratories to influence the scientific community about benefits of Vitamin D and the importance of frequent monitoring. Holick’s main funders are Ireland-based Shire, but also other companies such as Sanofi, Roche and Amgen, which have largely financed him. The National Academy of Medicine–later known as Institute of Medicine–in 2011 published a report proving that the vast majority of the US population had an optimal D-Vitamin level, thanks to their eating habits and sun exposure, which makes monitoring and tanning lamps to generate the vitamin pointless. However, the Endocrine Society some months later published a study claiming the exact opposite, that is that vitamin D deficiency is very common in the US population. Enthusiasm about Vitamin D has only increased since then, to the extent that now it is said to prevent heart conditions, depression, obesity, memory loss and even cancer, although the scientific community has reiterated that no evidence about it exist.
(Source: New York Times)