Fight Fire with Proof

Karen Howard, Organic & Natural Health Association, GMO Labeling Act

Many speak to the continued assault of mainstream media against the supplement industry. The value of supplementation is degraded consistently. “Supplements are not necessary, nutrients can be obtained by food,” and “Supplements are dangerous, placing you at risk.” The credibility and training of natural health practitioners is challenged and consumers are urged to walk away.   

The Organic & Natural Health Association is taking a proactive approach, launching a consumer education campaign and nutrient research agenda, starting with peer-reviewed, published research on the power of vitamin D. Our partner in this effort, GrassrootsHealth, and its panel of 48 scientists will work hand-in-hand with Organic & Natural Health’s Scientific Advisory Board to educate consumers on the totality of the body of science and the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation. We couldn’t have started at a more critical point in time, on the eve of some of the worst press vitamin D has yet to encounter. 

You may have read about a Swiss study of 200 men and women and the impact vitamin D had upon the rate of falls they took. Criticism came fast. Stephen Petranek of Daily Reckoning titled his piece “Even Vitamin D May Not Be Good for You.” Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In this Swiss study, one group of seniors took 800 IUs of vitamin D daily, while the second group received two high doses of vitamin D monthly. In fact, those receiving the high doses experienced more falls. According to Dr. Reinhold Vieth, University of Toronto Medical School, large monthly dosing does not work for non-skeletal effects of vitamin D, but instead result in a “false season” effect with unhealthy big highs and big lows. GrassrootsHealth stands by data demonstrating it is the serum level of 40-60 ng/ml through daily inputs of sun, supplements and/or diet that is beneficial to overall health.  In fact, dosing amounts do not consistently result in standardized serum levels. What dose works for one person may prove insufficient for another in an effort to achieve an optimal serum level. Click here to listen to Vieth’s insights.

Our partnership with GrassrootsHealth not only enables us to demonstrate the power of vitamin D to diminish the effects of seasonable affective disorder, improve immune health, decrease pain and address a host of other health conditions, it also allows us to demonstrate how eliminating other nutrient deficiency, such as omegas and magnesium will change health outcomes.  The power of this research is not rooted in the RCT model, which fairs poorly in measuring the impact of nutrients.  GrassrootsHealth relies on 12,000 self-enrolled individuals (growing daily in number) who participate in its translational research model; monitoring detailed health information, taking those findings from basic science and moving them into practice to generate meaningful health outcomes.  Does it work?  The University of South Carolina, along with GrassrootsHealth, has decreased pre-term births by 50 percent and now monitoring vitamin D levels in pregnant moms is now standard protocol. 

As an industry we need to spend more time getting out the good news on the power of nutrients and less time with fighting the battles of bad press.  Get the information out there and let the public decide for themselves how to better their health – a quest we are all on together.



Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director of Organic & Natural Health Association, is a visionary and results-focused leader who has spent more than 30 years working with Congress, state legislatures and healthcare organizations to develop innovative healthcare policy and programs. She has held a variety of executive positions, including serving as professional staff for a Congressional committee, and has policy expertise in the diverse areas of integrative and complementary medicine, managed care, healthcare technology and mental health. An advocate at heart, she has worked to strategically advance the mission and vision of organizations through effective advocacy and strong collaboration.

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NOTE: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer. WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific company, brand or product.

Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 3/2/2016