Vitamin D & Me moved the needle on connecting consumers with nutrition research

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin d, Vitamin d deficiency, Vitamin d supplementation, Vitamin d levels, COVID-19

Connecting consumers with science was the basic idea behind the Vitamin D & Me project, which won this year’s Industry Initiative of the Year in NutraIngredient-USA’s annual awards.

Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, and Will Rowe, CEO of Nutrasource, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA about the initiative. The CRN Foundation managed the project while Nutrasource did the heavy scientific lifting.

Mister said the project was aimed at addressing the public health crisis brought on by the global pandemic.  Solid research was accruing that linked higher vitamin D status with improved outcomes from COVID-19 infections.  What was needed was an organized way to tell that story that would be both informative and engaging for consumers and health care professionals alike.

“The purpose was to get out to consumers the info that is growing every week about the benefit of vitamin D and its connections to COVID-19.  It all started around January 2021,” ​Mister said.

Info presented in unbiased way

Nutrasource, which responded to a request for proposal on the part of the CRN Foundation, was selected to carry the project forward. Rowe and Mister said Nutrasource’s director of scientific affairs, Dr Susan Hewlings, PhD, reviewed hundreds of journal articles and mentions in the press to assemble the information that went into the website. 

“She was really a driving force in looking at the journal articles, in looking at news pieces, and putting information together in an unbiased way,”​ Rowe said.

The website now includes information from more than 100 studies.  It was structured to contain written articles and videos.  Podcasts are also part of the package.

“Putting the two bits of information together — the videos as well as the written assessments of the literature— has worked very well from the standpoint of educating the public,” ​Rowe said.

Mister said there were some things learned along the way.  One of them was, however engaging the content, too much of it in one go was an inefficient use of the material.  It was found that breaking a 30 minute video up into many shorter segments vastly improved the way consumers engaged with the content.

Proving the science backing of nutrients

Both Mister and Rowe said the project goes a long way toward putting to rest criticisms that the supplement message is built on sizzle, not science.

“It really does help counter this narrative that’s out for the supplements, that the claims are not substantiated, that there is no research behind it, that you can say what you want about the products. The amount of research that has been done in this area in the past two and a half years is really striking, and to be able to gather it up and put it in one place demonstrates that these products do have a lot of science behind them,”​ Mister said.

To see the full Vitamin D & Me resource, click here​.

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