Black People and Vitamin D Deficiency | Questions and Answers
Why do black people need a vitamin D supplement?
Everyone has the ability to make vitamin D in the body. All that is required is exposure to sunlight. African Americans have a natural sun blocker which prevents the skin from absorbing the necessary amount of sun needed to make pre-vitamin D then vitamin D.
What is this natural sun blocker?
It's called melanin. Melanin protects the skin against UV light and blocks the suns rays. The darker the skin, the more melanin it contains and the less vitamin D it will produce. Melanin is also the reason that black people are less affected by sunburn and sun damage to the skin.
Have black people always been deficient in vitamin D or has the problem worsened through generations?
Yes, black people have always needed more sun exposure in order to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, however; modern generations of African Americans are at an even greater risk of deficiency than their ancestors.
As generations become more advanced, people are exposed to less sunlight and when they are exposed to sunlight, it's usually while being covered in sunscreen, mostly because of the risk of skin cancer is so well known.
Besides skin color, is there anything else that could cause a vitamin D deficiency?
Aging is another risk factor. In general, people are living longer and as we get older, we’re less likely to be in the sun; the small amounts of sun that is absorbed by the skin will find it more difficult to convert that sunlight into pre-vitamin D and then into vitamin D. Our body reactions slow down as we get older.
Another contributing factor is weight. A larger percentage of African Americans are overweight most other racial group. Please keep in mind that overweight does not mean obese, but it could be a few pounds extra to several pounds extra or obese. It is not known why, but heavier people do not produce as much vitamin D for the body to use as people in the normal weight range.
What are the benefits of adequate amounts of vitamin D in black people?
Many people have little idea that taking regular amounts of this vitamin may help prevent some of the most common life-threatening illnesses.
Vitamin D is best known for building bones. It is a necessary nutrient for the body to absorb calcium. Calcium is key to building strong bones and in preventing osteoporosis, a bone disease that is affecting more and more black women in their elderly years.
vitamin D has also been proven to lower the risk of diabetes, (a disease that is growing more common among the black population), hypertension, multiple sclerosis or MS (which is on the rise among African Americans), memory loss, several types of cancer, and obesity.
How do you know if you have a vitamin D deficiency?
Your doctor can give you a blood test. You'll probably have to ask for it and it is usually covered by insurance. For those that do not have insurance, there is also a home test available.
How should you get proper amounts of vitamin D
It's always best to get vitamins from natural sources like food and in this case sunlight, but the truth is those sources probably will not provide enough of the nutrient. This makes taking a supplement more necessary.
So what's the good news?
The good news is that this problem is easily fixed by simply adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine. Sadly, many black people are not aware of this "epidemic" and will not take measures to correct it. So again talk to your doctor.
What do you take?
My vitamin brand of choice is Nutrilite Vitamin D3. Nutrilite is my brand of choice for supplements, including my vitamin D supplements.
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