Vit D Policy Requires Review

By: Law is Cool · February 6, 2008 · Filed Under Health Law · 1 Comment 

Vitamin DA study conducted at the University of Toronto tested blood levels of students there and found many of them to be surprisingly low in Vitamin D.

The CTV report states:

  • Among those of European origin, with lighter skin, 34 per cent had insufficient levels of vitamin D.
  • Among those from East Asian or Chinese descent, 85 per cent had insufficient levels.
  • Among those from South Asia — countries such as India — 93 per cent had insufficient levels.
  • And among those of African ancestry, 100 per cent — everyone tested — had insufficient levels. And among this group, about 43 per cent were considered deficient, with levels below 25 nmol/L.

Some have responded by inquiring into governmental recommendations for vitamin D. The Globe and Mail said,

Currently, Health Canada doesn’t have a racially based recommendation for vitamin D, and tells everyone to take the same amount.

But racially-based recommendations would be misleading.

Race is a social construct that has no objective basis in science. Any recommendations attempting to provide suggestions based on racial lines would be misleading.

The New England Journal of Medicine stated in May 3, 2001,

Race is a social construct, not a scientific classification.

In medicine, there is only one race — the human race.

Vitamin DThe real factor involved here is skin pigmentation, the darker colours filtering out UV light that is needed to produce vitamin D in the bloodstream.

Racial groups present a wide spectrum of skin pigmentations, and broad recommendations would overlook this internal diversity.

Focusing on skin colour instead would help vulnerable populations identify when they are at risk.

Although Vitamin D is not a magic bullet, it does help fight cancer, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and susceptibility to tuberculosis and influenza.

Comments

One Response to “Vit D Policy Requires Review”

  1. Mark on February 6th, 2008 6:09 pm

    Race may be a social construct but the genetic differences that accompany continent of origin of ancestors are real and can mean drugs effective in one genetic group are worthless in the other and vice versa.
    http://www.forbes.com/2005/05/10/cx_mh_0509racemedicine.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/weekinreview/14nick.html
    http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/112/23/3654


    LawIsCool: Agreed. However, such genetic differences cannot be accurately aggregated into distinct racial groupings. Historical white/black categorizations are based on primarily N European and W African populations, for example, and do not reflect the many other Canadian populations that may phenotypically present similarly, but differ considerably in ancestry. This is especially true when using American groups for Canadian populations.
    Although it is important for drug trials to be conducted among diverse populations, guidelines based on racial categories is not only erroneous, but dangerous to those who do not automatically conform to them.
    In addition, many of these presumed differences could be based on SES factors. One of the links you cite state,

    Current federal guidelines define 5 principal ethnic/racial groups.These groupings roughly correspond to the continent of geographic origin, except for 1 group that is defined by language (ie, Hispanic). This grouping is complicated, especially in the United States, where geographic ancestry may be associated with clustering of genetic characteristics but is also coupled with differences in societal advantage, living environments, physician-patient interactions, accumulation of wealth, and access to quality health services. In spite of these complexities, inclusion of subjects by race/ethnicity in clinical trials is essential to define the reasons for differences in health outcomes, whether environmental or biological.

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