African Americans have higher incidence of, and mortality from, many health-related problems than European Americans. They also have a 15 to 20-fold higher prevalence of severe vitamin D deficiency. Here we summarize evidence that: (i) this health disparity is partly due to insufficient vitamin D production, caused by melanin in the skin blocking the UVB solar radiation necessary for its synthesis; (ii) the vitamin D insufficiency is exacerbated at high latitudes because of the combination of dark skin color with lower UVB radiation levels; and (iii) the health of individuals with dark skin can be markedly improved by correcting deficiency and achieving an optimal vitamin D status, as could be obtained by supplementation and/or fortification. Moderate-to-strong evidence exists that high 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and/or vitamin D supplementation reduces risk for many adverse health outcomes including all-cause mortality rate, adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, cancer, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, multiple sclerosis, acute respiratory tract infections, COVID-19, asthma exacerbations, rickets, and osteomalacia. We suggest that people with low vitamin D status, which would include most people with dark skin living at high latitudes, along with their health care provider, consider taking vitamin D3
supplements to raise serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels to 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) or possibly higher.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited