Is Vitamin D deficiency an urban myth?
The stand of Boston University's endocrinologist Dr. Michael Holick that 'vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups,' has led to the creation of a billion-dollar vitamin D industry in America. But few of the Americans swept up in the vitamin D craze are likely aware that the industry has sent a lot of money Dr. Holick’s way.

A Kaiser Health News investigation for The New York Times found that he has used his prominent position in the medical community to promote practices that financially benefit corporations that have given him hundreds of thousands of dollars — including drug makers, the indoor tanning industry and one of the country’s largest commercial labs.

Dr. Holick’s crucial role in shaping that debate occurred in 2011. Late the previous year, the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (then known as the Institute of Medicine), a group of independent scientific experts, issued a comprehensive, 1,132-page report on vitamin D deficiency. It concluded that the vast majority of Americans get plenty of the hormone naturally, and advised doctors to test only patients at high risk of certain disorders, such as osteoporosis.

A few months later, in June 2011, Dr. Holick oversaw the publication of a report that took a starkly different view. The paper, in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was on behalf of the Endocrine Society, the field’s foremost professional group, whose guidelines are widely used by hospitals, physicians and commercial labs nationwide, including Quest.

The society adopted Dr. Holick’s position that “vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups” and advocated a huge expansion of vitamin D testing, targeting more than half the United States population, including those who are black, Hispanic or obese — groups that tend to have lower vitamin D levels than others.

The recommendations were a financial windfall for the vitamin D industry. By advocating such widespread testing, the Endocrine Society directed more business to Quest and other commercial labs. Vitamin D tests are now the fifth-most-common lab test covered by Medicare.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/business/vitamin-d-michael-holick.html
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