The vitamin D-lemma

From Nature:

Vit With his skull-and-crossbones bow tie tied tight, Clifford Rosen strides to the podium at the Metropolitan Bone Club, a meeting of researchers and clinicians in New York City concerned with all things skeletal. He begins by bracing himself: “If you want to ask a question or just yell at me, go ahead,” he says. “I'm used to a lot of antagonism, anger, and frustration.”

Rosen is director of clinical and translational research at Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough and is a respected member of the bone-research community. But his role last year on an expert panel to determine how much calcium and vitamin D people need put him at odds with many of his colleagues. In the past few years, vitamin D has earned a reputation in Western countries for preventing or fighting prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and about 30 other maladies, leading to advice that most people should be supplementing what the body produces naturally when exposed to sunlight. But in November, the panel, put together by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — a non-profit group affiliated with the US National Academy of Sciences — issued a report1 that challenged that view. Blood levels of vitamin D need not be as high as many physicians and testing companies had been advocating, it said, and high doses of the vitamin could actually cause harm. Since the report was released, Rosen says he's received about 150 e-mails critical of the panel's decisions. About one-third were downright hateful. “A rehabilitation doctor in Texas threatened to bring me to the board of malpractice to have my licence revoked. People tell me I don't know what I'm doing,” he says. “It has become personal.”

More here.