(BlackDoctor.org) — A common but frequently overlooked nutrient deficiency could be putting African-Americans at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
According to the National Research Journal, nearly 82 percent of African-Americans face vitamin D deficiency – that’s more than twice the national average. Low vitamin D levels are associated with arterial stiffness, which is a known risk factor for both heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death among African-Americans.
Why? For one, pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin. Second, as many as three in four African-Americans are lactose intolerant, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which may lead to reduced consumption of vitamin D-fortified dairy products.
Unfortunately, taking extra supplements alone is not the answer, since taking more than 4,000 IU a day puts you at risk for vitamin D toxicity.
Why is vitamin D deficiency so harmful?
• Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is needed for bone growth and restoration.
Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or
misshapen. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older
adults from osteoporosis.
• A growing body of research suggests
that vitamin D might play some role in the prevention and treatment of
type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis, among other
• In 2000, University of North Carolina Chapel
Hill doctors reported an increase in the reported number of rickets
cases among breastfed babies, especially among African-Americans.
Studies suggest that more than one-third of Americans are vitamin D
deficient. Nearly 82 percent of African-Americans face vitamin D
• Low vitamin D levels are associated with arterial
stiffness. This is a known risk factor for both heart disease and
stroke, two of the leading causes of death among African-Americans.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
Some of the symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
• Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness and pain in children and adults. However, for many people, symptoms are subtle.