The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a voluntary organisation that delivers non-binding but influential opinions on complaints about potential marketing transgressions, upheld a complaint and told New Nordic to alter its ads, which New Nordic agreed to do.
The unnamed complainant challenged whether the New Nordic product, Nutra K2, that promised to “glue calcium to the bones”, was making misleading efficacy claims and whether the claims were medicinal.
Nutra K2 also contains vitamin D and calcium and made additional claims to the effect it reduced the unwanted build up of calcium in human arteries.
The ASA agreed with the complainant after taking advice from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that the "calcium glue" claims were indeed unauthorised medical claims.
Two particular claims were highlighted as disease reduction claims and therefore medicinal: "The tablet which 'glue' calcium to the bones, helps me from shrinking ... a revolutionary discovery that helps fragile bones and bone loss" and "It activates cells to put calcium into the bones and it inhibits the cells, which is known to break down bone structure".
The ASA dismissed New Nordic’s evidence that included a mice study on bone metabolism and a study of the effect of vitamin K2 in over-55 men and women as being insufficient to support the efficacy claims.
ASA also dismissed a gold standard trial that showed a positive bone health effect among women aged 55 to 75 because the trial dosage was much higher than that found in Nutra K2.“Because we considered that we had not seen evidence that demonstrated the claimed efficacy of the Nutra K2 supplement, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading,” stated ASA.
The adverts made further claims that drifted into pharma territory. One stated:
“A secondary benefit is that this natural tablet may help 'polish' our veins. The press call it the 'Pharmaceutical Holy Grail'. Read Margaret's story and be inspired to start taking the tablets sooner rather than later.”
Margaret’s story included reference to a substance in the product called menaquinone, another name for vitamin K2.
There are two main forms of vitamin K: phylloquinone, also known as phytonadione, (vitamin K1) and menaquinones (vitamins K2). K1 is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, and makes up about 90 per cent of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet; while K2, which makes up about 10 per cent of Western vitamin K consumption and can be synthesised in the gut by microflora.
New Nordic were unavailable for comment by the time of publication.