Calling for New Vitamin D Recommendations

African American men prone to vitamin D deficiencies

(RxWiki News) Being deficient in vitamin D is associated with a host of diseases. Because of its important, researchers think it's time to tailor the recommendations for achieving optimum levels of this essential vitamin.

Black men who live in areas that don't receive a lot of sunlight are more prone to vitamin D deficiencies than white men living in the same areas. For this reason, researchers are calling for recommendations about daily vitamin D intake to be changed to account for these differences.

"Have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels; talk to your pharmacist about supplementation."

For a recent study, researchers evaluated vitamin D levels in 492 men between the ages 40 to 79 years who lived in Chicago, which is considered a low-light environment.

Among participants, 93 percent of African-American men and 69.7 percent of European-American men had low levels of vitamin D - less than 30 ng/mL

Levels were low in black men who had lower incomes and higher body mass indexes.

Not being exposed to sunlight can lower vitamin D levels, but researchers have found that black men still tend to have lower levels of the essential vitamin even when they live in sunny areas.

Lead study investigator, Adam B. Murphy, M.D., M.B.A., clinical instructor in the department of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, believes African-Americans don't produce the same amounts of vitamin D because darker skin contains more of the pigment melanin than fairer skin.

The melanin blocks out UVR rays which in turn reduces the amount of vitamin D the body naturally produces.

As a result of these biological differences, Dr. Murphy thinks recommendations regarding vitamin D need to be segmented to account for skin type, low-light environments and clothing preferences.

Mark Bans, D.C. of Bans Health and Wellness in Austin, tells dailyRx, "Each individual is unique in many factors, including lifestyle, diet, physiological, etc. The best thing to do is to get your vitamin D levels tested regularly throughout the year. This is really the best way to know where you stand," Dr. Bans said.

Dr. Bans recommends, ""If you need  vitamin D supplementation, it's best to search for the D3 form of Vitamin D which has shown in clinical trials to be the most effective form of the vitamin." 

Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to a variety of diseases, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, breast and prostate cancers.

Findings from this study were presented at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Research that has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

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Review Date: 
September 20, 2011