Lots of black folks have a deficiency of this necessary vitamin
Lately you’ve been hearing a lot about vitamin D, normally associated with your bones (think rickets). That’s because a number of studies show that too little of the vitamin increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Other studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency may predispose the body to congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. And it appears too many people in the U.S. have too little vitamin D; an estimated three out of four of us are vitamin D deficient.
Reasons for Vitamin D Deficiency Are Two-Fold
While we can get vitamin D through the sun, experts place part of the blame for D deficiency on efforts to protect ourselves from skin cancer (sunscreen with a low SPF of 15 blocks 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis through the skin). Though a little sun is good, you should apply sunscreen—all year, not just in the summer—if you’re going to be in intense sunlight for more than 15 minutes.
If you take supplements, most experts say a too-low dosage is another reason for the high number of vitamin D-deficient folks. The current recommended daily allowance for the “sunshine vitamin” is 600 IU a day (800 IU for those older than 70). Multivitamins contain 400 IU. OTC vitamin D supplements contain between 1,000 and 2,000 IU, which doctors say is the correct amount for people with a deficiency.
New research finds obesity to be a culprit in vitamin D deficiency, too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers believe vitamin D is stored in the fatty tissue of obese people instead of circulating through the body.
So How Do You Get Enough Vitamin D?
If you’re healthy and haven’t been diagnosed with a deficiency, you’re probably fine with a combination of diet (vitamin D-containing foods include catfish, salmon, eggs yolks, and fortified milk and orange juice), a multivitamin (talk to your doctor before starting a vitamin D supplement) and taking Fido for a 15-minute romp before the sun sets.