General United States

Study says Vitamin D Effects Races Differently

The consumption of Vitamin D is rising for patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, osteoporosis, auto-immune disease, and its related or caused diseases. A 2017 study showed an increase in Vitamin D takers, indicating that more people are interested and concerned about its effects. However, the study also says black and brown skin people obtaining Vitamin D from the sun is harder than fair-skinned people.

“Getting enough vitamin D is a challenge; yet it is ‘an essential vitamin, meaning that we have to get it outside of ourselves,’ because the body won’t produce enough of the vitamin if you aren’t getting sufficient sun exposure,” according to Dr. LaTasha Seliby Perkins, a family physician at Georgetown University.

Vitamin D is a vital aid to calcium and phosphorus in the process of building bone, says Perkins, and vitamin D deficiency can increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

It can take years of vitamin D deficiency to see effects on bone health, according to Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk, a board-certified family physician at One Medical in North Carolina.

“Vitamin D helps those who have low energy, and moods,” Dr. Mieses Malchuk added,  “There are plenty of people who report an improvement in their energy and an improvement in their mood once their vitamin D deficiency is corrected.”

Ultimately, the UVB rays are blocked by the skin of melanin-sufficient people, thus these people would be able to withstand being under the sun without sun-cream longer than fair-skinned people… up to at least 1.5 to 2 times. Melanin protects from skin cancer but also blocks the Sun’s rays. The study suggests that an overdose of Vitamin D is also harmful to the kidneys.

“Regardless of your skin color, if you live in the United States, you’re probably not getting enough sun exposure to make sufficient amounts of vitamin D,” Dr. Perkins adds.

The standard recommendation of daily vitamin D intake is about 400 international units for anyone under the age of one, and around 600 IUs for people ages one and above, according to the National Institutes of Health. Those over the age of 70 should aim to get about 800 IUs.

Both physicians agree that sun exposure is the best way to get more vitamin D, though expert recommendations for how long you should sit in the sun without sunscreen do vary.

Perkins suggests at least 20 minutes of sunlight without sunscreen for everyone, and up to 30 or 40 minutes for Black and brown people.

As always, if you are interested in taking Vitamin D with certain symptoms, you should ask your house physician about it first.

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