A report released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine outlined the group’s findings based on an analysis of studies and input from clinicians. What is the Institute of Medicine? According their website, it is “an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public”. However, upon closer look at this group, one finds that 54.8% of the funding comes from the federal government. Additional funding is through: a large sum from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (originally started by the founder of Johnson & Johnson – one of the largest health care and pharmaceutical corporations, and whose ongoing investment funding is not specifically noted on their website), other large philanthropic organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other smaller groups. With so many different interest groups involved in the Institute of Medicine, is it realistic to expect unbiased reporting?
I find it better to look at studies for myself and draw my own conclusions. The amounts of studies which have been conducted worldwide point to overwhelming evidence that our Vitamin D levels are alarmingly low. Our government has stated that a level of 30 ng/ml is considered low, while other experts are suggesting that levels of 50 ng/ml are more the optimal range. The IOM report states that supplementation with Vitamin D is not necessary, but in the patients I have spoken with who have had their Vitamin D levels drawn, even in the summer months, the levels are consistently well below 30. If one is going to opt to not supplement, I suggest having a level drawn in February, when sun exposure has been at a minimum, to determine whether dietary Vitamin D is adequate.
For questions on Vitamin D’s role in specific health issues, I strongly urge visiting http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, the government listing of medical studies, to evaluate their findings. We live in an age when such a wealth of information is at our fingertips – we need to take advantage of it and not simply accept reporting which has the potential of being biased.