New consumer campaign encourages vitamin D testing to identify deficiency, advance research

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock
A consumer education campaign launched by the Organic and Natural Health Association earlier this year will encourage consumers to test their vitamin D levels to identify supplementation needs while simultaneously advancing research on the importance of the nutrient in a variety of health conditions. 

“The Power of D” campaign will explain to the public over the course of this year the role vitamin D plays in the body, the frequency and dangers of deficiency and insufficiency and how supplementation could help maintain health and prevent acute and chronic disease, explained Karen Howard, ONHA’s CEO, at the trade group’s inaugural conference in Florida Jan. 27.

She noted the association will tap members of its newly formed scientific advisory committee to deliver these messages across 12 multimedia markets throughout 2016.

A key component of the campaign will be directing consumers to order a vitamin D test kit from GrassrootsHealth, a public health promotion organization that seeks to move vitamin D research into practice, Howard said.

GrassrootsHealth sends vitamin D kits to consumers’ homes, where they then conduct and mail back the results of a finger-prick blood spot test along with survey data about their overall health. The data is de-identified and accumulated to evaluate as the basis for research studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals, according to Carole Baggerly, director of GrassrootsHealth.

The findings from the research also will be used as the basis for messages delivered through mainstream media by the campaign, Howard said. In addition, the association will create a website where consumers can learn more about the research and benefits of vitamin D, Howard said.

Part of the impetus for the campaign is to counter recent negative research findings about vitamin D that cast doubt on the value of supplementation, Howard said.

More nutrient-specific campaigns on horizon

While the vitamin D campaign will extend only through the end of 2016, the association intends to team with GrassrootsHealth to focus on a new nutrient every year in the foreseeable future, Howard said.

“The vitamin D campaign is just the beginning of what we will be doing for years. We found a really creative way to get the message out and we are very enthusiastic about supporting research,”​ Howard told NutraIngredients-USA.

She added that the shortlist for future featured nutrients includes magnesium, vitamin K and calcium.

The announcement about the campaign came the same day that the Organic & Natural Health Association said it would abandon its efforts to create a certification and seal for products that meet its standards for “natural”​ –​ a marketing term that has landed many firms in hot water for false claims allegations in the last 10 years. The association remains committed to defining natural though.

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