Agency approves new health claim on foods offering both, and edits language of current calcium-osteoporosis claim
by Craig Weatherby
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed allowing makers of foods and dietary supplements containing calcium and Vitamin D to place a new health claim on product labels regarding the pair’s potential to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
The agency is accepting comments (see below), but the proposed rule is expected to become final soon, since the evidence clearly supports it.
Fish fit the vitamin D bill; Sockeye salmon stand out
Certain fish rank among the very few substantial food sources of vitamin D.
Among fish, wild sockeye salmon may be the richest source of all, with a single 3.5 ounce serving surpassing the US RDA of 400 IU by about 70 percent:
Vitamin D per 3.5 ounce serving*
Sockeye salmon—687 IU
Albacore tuna—544 IU
Silver salmon—430 IU
King salmon—236 IU
*For our full test results, click here.
Unfortunately, the agency is not raising the US RDA for vitamin D—now 400 IU per day—which should be 1,000 to 2,000 IU, judging by the opinions of most researchers in the field.
These comments by assistant commissioner Kathleen Uhl, MD were in the FDA press release:
“Osteoporosis is a significant public health problem, especially for women. This new labeling should assist consumers to select foods—and women especially since women do the majority of food shopping in the US—that provide adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake and hopefully prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis in themselves and their family members.”
We’re very glad the FDA made this overdue move, but wish the Feds would get serious and double the RDA for vitamin D.
In addition to bolstering our bones, by enhancing their uptake of calcium, dietary vitamin D clearly helps prevent common cancers and may help prevent adverse heart events and even ward off or weaken the flu.
For more on these topics, go to our newsletter archive and search for “vitamin D”.
Calcium language loosened
In addition to adding a claim for calcium and vitamin D together, the FDA is proposing to change the calcium and osteoporosis health claim as follows, to simplify and shorten it:
- Drop the reference to sex, race, and age since the benefits apply to both sexes at all ages and race categories.
- Drop the need to identify the mechanism by which calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Drop the requirement that the claim state that there are limits to benefit of calcium intakes above 200% of the Daily Value.
The new claim for calcium and vitamin D is the more significant news, by far. While a very small step, it represents real progress in the recognition of vitamin D’s criminally overlooked importance to key aspects of human health.
- FDA News. FDA Updates Health Claim for Calcium and Osteoporosis. January 5, 2007. Accessed online January 8, 2007 at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01543.html.