African Americans have the highest rates of hypertension in the world
African Americans who take vitamin D supplements may significantly lower their blood pressure, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. This is welcome news for many African Americans, who have higher rates of hypertension—and are more likely to be vitamin D deficient—than other races.
The study divided 250 African-American adults into four groups. Three of the groups took a daily vitamin D supplement at various doses ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 units. The fourth group received a placebo. The supplement groups experienced a drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) of 1 to 4 points, a modest but significant reduction.
“If our findings are confirmed by other studies, then vitamin D supplementation may be a useful means of helping black individuals lower their blood pressure,” says John Forman, M.D., lead author of the study. The placebo group’s systolic pressure increased.
Diet and sunlight are two natural sources of vitamin D in humans. But few foods have vitamin D, and having dark-colored skin cuts down on the amount of vitamin D the skin makes. The National Institutes of Health recommends 600 IU of vitamin D per day for people older than 30 (800 IU for those older than 70).