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Vitamin D: A treatment for mastitis in cows?

Posted on: June 27, 2012   by  John Cannell, MD


Mastitis is the inflammation and infection of breast tissue. A bacterium, staph aureus, is the most common cause, but other bacteria cause it as well. Mastitis occurs in domestic animals as well as in human beings, especially cows, since milk from the infected udders of livestock may enter the food supply and pose a public health risk. It has a tremendous economic importance for the dairy industry, to the tune of two billion dollars a year.

Molecular biologist John Lippolis, in the Ruminant Diseases and Immunology Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has discovered that simple vitamin D, injected directly into a cow’s infected breast, effectively treats the disease.

Sandra Avant, S. Treating Mastitis in Dairy Cattle with Vitamin D. USDA, June 18, 2012

The importance of this should not be underestimated. Perhaps they will soon discover that vitamin D added to cow’s feed does the same thing. If so, we may all be getting a little more vitamin D in our hamburger. This is one strategy that the government is looking into fortifying food with vitamin D.

7 Responses to Vitamin D: A treatment for mastitis in cows?

  1. Ian

    On this topic: NZ is researching ways to increase vitamin D in Cow’s milk to enable “natural” supplementation of the diet. It is quite secret, so that is all I can say.

    • Brant Cebulla

      Ian, what do you mean by “‘natural’ supplementation”? Are they going to start adding vitamin D to cow’s diets to make their milk “naturally” rich in vitamin D?

  2. [email protected]

    A natural way to supplement would be to do the natural thing … let the cow go out in the sun, as we do, when we want the natural thing, D3 from the sun.

  3. Ian

    Yes Brant, that is what I mean by “natural supplementation”. I understand that cows do produce vitamin D in their skin even though they are covered with hair. I know that in research, they do already add vitamin D to the cows diet. The issue is, how can the vitamin D in the milk be increased and controlled to enable milk which is fortified for human consumption. I am not sure what happens to vitamin D during pasturization of milk. What happens in the US? Is it added to the milk after pasturization or before?

    • Brant Cebulla

      Ian, good question, don’t know the answer though. I skimmed the Chapter from Feldman Third Edition called “Industrial Aspects of Vitamin D” but saw no mention of it. There might be some references that give better insight.

      Anyone know the answer here?

  4. [email protected]

    What a radical new discovery! LET THE COWS GO OUTSIDE (!) AND EAT THE GRASS !
    They (and us) will all be healthier. Who knew? …

    Oh, wait a minute, I (we) forgot – that’s the way God designed it in the first place ! 🙂

  5. Ian

    All the cows ARE outside in NZ.

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