Vitamin D supplementation has low risk and cost, and should be encouraged in African Americans.
"Vitamin D insufficiency is more prevalent among African Americans (blacks) than other Americans and, in North America, most young, healthy blacks do not achieve optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations at any time of year. This is primarily due to the fact that pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin," a review in the United States reports.
"Also," wrote S.S. Harris at Tufts University, "from about puberty and onward, median vitamin D intakes of American blacks are below recommended intakes in every age group, with or without the inclusion of vitamin D from supplements. Despite their low 25(OH)D levels, blacks have lower rates of osteoporotic fractures. This may result in part from bone-protective adaptations that include an intestinal resistance to the actions of 1,25(OH)2D and a skeletal resistance to the actions of parathyroid hormone (PTH)."
"However," continued the reviewer, "these mechanisms may not fully mitigate the harmful skeletal effects of low 25(OH)D and elevated PTH in blacks, at least among older individuals. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that vitamin D protects against other chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers, all of which are as prevalent or more prevalent among blacks than whites."
The author concluded, "Clinicians and educators should be encouraged to promote improved vitamin D status among blacks (and others) because of the low risk and low cost of vitamin D supplementation and its potentially broad health benefits."
Harris published the review in the Journal of Nutrition (Vitamin D and African Americans. J Nutr, 2006;136(4):1126-1129).
For additional information, contact S.S. Harris, Tufts University, Jean Mayer U.S. Dept. Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Center Aging, Boston, MA 02111, USA.
The publisher of the Journal of Nutrition can be contacted at: American Society Nutritional Science, 9650 Rockville Pike, RM L-2407A, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.
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