Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Vitamin D Paradox in Black Americans

*The National Institute of Health found a remarkable paradox in the African-American community.. African-Americans had deficient or markedly low levels of vitamin D, but still had lesser incidences of osteopenia, fractures, or falls as opposed to white Americans.

Vitamin D is known to play a role in bringing about health benefits like good bone condition and strength. The significance of how vitamin D plays this role, however, is still not quite understood because a number of misconceptions have brought forward considerable levels of ambiguity.

First of all, vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. Vitamins consist of all those essential nutrients for humans that their bodies cannot produce on their own. This is why vitamins need to be obtained through diets. Vitamin D, on the other hand, was found to be produced naturally on mammalian skin due to the exposure to the sun.

Secondly, it was discovered that vitamin D does not directly contribute toward boosting bone strength and density and staving off bone loss. Instead of enhancing the bone function directly, vitamin D naturally converts into a pre-hormone inside which then circulates around in the blood and offers numerous health benefits.

Coming back to the study conducted by the National Institute of Health in the US, it was previously known that lower vitamin D levels increased the risks of osteopenia in the individual. This, however, in the recent findings only seemed to apply to Mexican-Americans and the white community. African-Americans, on the other hand, were markedly seen to have lower cases of osteopenia, fractures, and falls as compared to their white counterparts.

On the flipside of the coin, a BMC Proceedings report also found through their expert panelists that black Americans didn’t gain any skeletal benefits from high doses of vitamin D supplements. In the rest of the American population, however, high levels of vitamin D tend to bring about adverse effects in the respective individuals.

So should the black community celebrate or be worried? Well, neither. The BMC report also made a statement saying that factors such as environment, genetics, skin pigmentation, and adiposity contributed towards different skeletal health. None of these factors, on their own, could explain why this happens and why black Americans seem to be immune to bone-related disorders.

Maybe this question is the very key to finding the answer to improving overall bone health in various populations. Only time will tell.

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