Vitamin D: Even More Important for African-Americans

vitamin d and life expectancy between blacks and whitesWhen people talk about Vitamin D, it usually has to do with bone health. And last week I did a post that talked about the many benefits of getting enough D—and the health risk associated with not getting enough. Two recent studies highlight even more of those risks, especially for African-Americans: arthritis pain in the knee, and the overall risk of dying prematurely.

The first study tracked 45 African-Americans and 49 Caucasians between 45-71, measured their Vitamin D levels, and ran them through tests to measure their sensitivity to pain.

The University of Florida research team, led by Toni Glover, found not only that Blacks reported more pain than Whites, but also that their Vitamin D levels were significantly lower. Those findings, say the researchers, suggest that higher Vitamin D levels may protect against pain—at least when it’s in the knee and is caused by arthritis.

vitamin d and knee pain“Our data demonstrate that differences in experimental pain sensitivity between the two races are mediated at least in part by variations in vitamin D levels,” writes Glover, who is a research nurse practitioner and doctoral candidate. Her study was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. You can find an abstract of the study here

The second study measured Vitamin D levels of 2,638 men and women aged 71-80 and tracked them for 8.5 years. They found that overall, African Americans had a higher risk of dying—and had lower Vitamin D levels than Caucasians. According to Stephen B. Kritchevsky and his colleagues who conducted the study, there may be a connection between Vitamin D levels and lifespan.

In an interview with Science Daily, Kritchevsky, a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said, “We observed Vitamin D insufficiency in one third of our study participants. This was associated with nearly a 50 percent increase in the mortality rate in older adults… Our findings suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be a substantial public health concern for our nation’s older adults.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. You can read more about it here.

As always, we strongly suggest that you consult with your healthcare provider before you make any changes based on something you read here or on any other health website.

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