Vitamin D, which he body creates when exposed to sunlight, is considered important for healthy bones and muscles. Studies have linked deficiency in it to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity and other ailments. Oklahoma State University conducted a five-week study that linked lower levels of the vitamin with symptoms of depression in women. Researchers studying the possible effect on depression have documented data reflecting an unpleasant fact — that black people are likelier to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency than whites.
One online sources states that people with dark skin needs about 25 times as much time being exposed to sunlight as a light-skinned person to receive an equal amount of Vitamin D. In one study to determine whether Vitamin D deficiency aggravated symptoms of depression, 61 percent of the black women tested had insufficient levels of the vitamin as opposed to 35 percent of the other women. Information from the Journal of Nutrition indicated that most healthy, younger African Americans living in North America do not absorb as much Vitamin D into their bodies as they should. It is also stated that blacks in general are more likely to suffer from a deficiency of the vitamin due to pigmentation reducing the production of it in the skin. This makes taking a vitamin D supplement very important.
According to one study referenced by the journal, between 53 and 76 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in the southern states had lower Vitamin D levels while between 8 and 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites had lower levels. The journal references another Vitamin D study conducted among young women in Boston four times over one year. The black women had lower levels throughout the year and smaller increases in them as the summer approached.
A study from 1997, however, also reported that blacks statistically have less Vitamin D in their diets. According to researchers, the medians for Vitamin D consumed by American blacks through food or supplements is between 6 and 31 lower than whites across different age groups and genders. A more recent study yielded similar results. Researchers attributed the results to lactose intolerance, lower consumption of milk and other factors. Despite this, researchers report that blacks have a lower rate of fractures caused by osteoporosis than whites due to better bone mineral density, bone geometry and other reasons — some of which are described as adaptive mechanisms and not all of which are completely understood. For example, researchers stated that there is an 11 percent chance for a 65-year-old white woman to get a hip fracture — for a black woman it would be 4 percent.
The benefits of Vitamin D for blacks are represented in other data. Researchers claim the death rate of people over 65 years old is twice as high in blacks as in whites. A significantly higher percentage of black males die from prostate cancer than white, and research has related this to exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D. Researchers have stated there is a need for more studies on this subject.