Vitamin D Society Declares November ‘Vitamin D Awareness Month’ in Canada

KELOWNA, BC - October 31, 2007 - Research this year has left no doubt that vitamin D deficiency – which affects an estimated 97 per cent of Canadians in the winter – is nothing less than a Canadian crisis and a worldwide problem.

This is why Canada’s Vitamin D Society is recognizing the month of November as the world’s first Vitamin D Awareness Month.


- Vitamin D deficiency in Canada is a multibillion-dollar contributor to skyrocketing health care costs, according to a soon-to-be published report commissioned by the Vitamin D Society. Dr. William Grant, whose Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center is a leading vitamin D advocacy group worldwide, is the study’s author. Dr. Grant conservatively calculates the cost of vitamin D deficiency on the Canadian health care system to be no less than $9 billion annually, based on established disease risk reduction in individuals with natural vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is now associated with higher risks of 22 forms of cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, flu and many other disorders.

- A landmark Creighton University study this year – the first-ever clinical trial to confirm the results of hundreds of epidemiologic studies on this topic – showed that people rich in vitamin D have up to a 77 per cent lower overall cancer risk. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in June, the four-year clinical trial followed 1,200 women who took high levels of vitamin D and matched them against a control group who did not take the vitamin. Those rich in vitamin D had up to 77 per cent fewer cancers as compared to the control group. That’s twice the impact on cancer risk attributed to smoking.

- The Canadian Paediatric Society in September recommended that pregnant women consult their physicians about getting 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily – 10 times the current government recommendation – based on the avalanche of new pro-vitamin D research. Breast milk is believed to be a poor source of vitamin D only because mothers typically are deficient in vitamin D, according to Dr. John Godel, principal author of the Canadian Paediatric Society's statement.

- The Canadian Cancer Society in June called for all Canadian adults to get 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. In a bold move in October, the group called for major medical institutions in North America to organize more clinical trials to further substantiate the vitamin D case.

Long known only as the body’s catalyst for proper calcium absorption, vitamin D plays a key part in cell growth regulation in the body – a recent discovery which explains how researchers in the past five years have quantified the vitamin’s role in the prevention of 22 forms of cancer as well as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and several other disorders.

Because of the profound effects of vitamin D deficiency, the Vitamin D Society is recognizing November in Canada as the world’s first Vitamin D Awareness Month. The message is simple:

- Canadians especially are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency because of the country’s relatively weak sunshine most of the year and the fact that vitamin D is rare in diet, occurring naturally only in fatty fish. Milk typically is supplemented with vitamin D.

- The Vitamin D Society recommends asking your doctor for an annual blood test to check your vitamin D levels. More important than your daily intake of vitamin D is your actual vitamin D blood level, which can be measured with a calcidiol test (also known as a 25-hyrdoxyvitamin D test). Optimal vitamin D blood levels are 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L), according to The Vitamin D Council.

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The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to: increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage Canadians to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D blood levels tested annually and fund valuable vitamin D research.

MEDIA: Canadian vitamin D expert Dr. Reinhold Vieth is available for interviews. To arrange an interview, contact Olga Petrycki at 416-360-6522 ext. 226