What’s one of the more serious issues of our time? Pollution and climate change? Broken systems in our society that have fueled the obesity epidemic and non-communicable diseases? Growing disparities in socioeconomic status? Food and water insecurity? Racism and sexism? Corruption? Breakdowns in the educational system? Well, on April 1, someone named Jeffrey Boadi claimed on Twitter that “one of the more serious issues of our time” is Vitamin D deficiency:
Was this an April Fool’s joke? Doesn’t look that way. A day after tweeting, “Vitamin D deficiency is one of the more serious issues of our time that is constantly overlooked,” Boadi followed up the next day on April 2 with a tweet about Vitamin D supplements. This tweet thread may have prompted the phrase “Vitamin D” to then trend on Twitter.
This included a number of anonymous social media accounts claiming that Vitamin D supplements changed their lives. Of course, such claims are unverifiable since you can’t really tell who or what bot may be behind such tweets. Then there were tweets such as the following:
Oh, lordy, lordy. Or perhaps, Overlordy, Overlordy. Our Overlords told us to “avoid exercise/sunlight?” When exactly did the reality TV show The Bachelor tell us to do that? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website clearly states that “Spending time outdoors can improve overall health and wellness. The outdoors offers many opportunities to be physically active. Time outdoors may also promote mental health and stress reduction.”
And why exactly should Vitamin D have been the “#1 recommendation” from the CDC two years ago? Was this tweet suggesting that Vitamin D was somehow the key to combatting the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic? If so, based on what real scientific evidence? I did cover for Forbes in February how a study found that Vitamin D supplementation was associated with shorter Covid-19-related hospital stays. But that’s far showing that such supplements could prevent the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Besides if Vitamin D were so effective against Covid-19, why wouldn’t the CDC say so? Well, here’s what another anonymous social media account tweeted:
Oh, that’s right. This all had to do with mail-in ballots and cheating during the election. Why not throw in space lasers, brown shirts, and pink unicorns as well.
This pushing of the Vitamin D overlooked narrative may be why some just noted and tried to then ignore the trend, such as gynecologist Jen Gunter, MD:
Others such as bariatric surgeon Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD, more actively questioned the “more serious issues of our time” and “overlooked” claim:
Elizabeth T Jacobs, PhD, a Professor of Epidemiology at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the University of Arizona Cancer Center, chimed in with a tweet thread about how Vitamin D hasn’t in fact been overlooked:
And Jacobs actually has an MS in Nutrition from Purdue University, and a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona. She is a cancer and chronic disease epidemiologist whose research covers Vitamin D:
By contrast, a link on Boadi’s Twitter profile takes you to a web site advertising his “Eat More Plants” recipe book. The “About” section of this web site doesn’t clarify what specific scientific experience or credentials qualify him as a nutrition or health expert.
Where exactly is the evidence that Vitamin D has been overlooked? The National Library of Medicine (NLM) maintains a web page on Vitamin D deficiency. It clearly lists the known problems associated with Vitamin D deficiency, such as various done problems. The NLM page does state that “Researchers are studying vitamin D for its possible connections to several medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. They need to do more research before they can understand the effects of vitamin D on these conditions.”
So while Vitamin D deficiency certainly deserves attention, calling it “one of the more serious issues of our time” and “overlooked” would be a bit much. There are a litany of more serious issues to address in health and our society today. In fact, one of the most serious issues of our time is people spreading misinformation that goes counter to real scientific information for political or monetary gain. With more and more people people posing as nutrition or other scientific experts without the corresponding credentials, experience, and credibility, such scientific misinformation is a growing and overlooked problem.