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Does the High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in African Americans Contribute to Health Disparities?

1
Molecular and Cell Biology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2
Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, San Francisco, CA 94164-1603, USA
3
Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
4
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Tyler Barker and Roberto Iacone
Nutrients 2021, 13(2), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020499
Received: 31 December 2020 / Revised: 24 January 2021 / Accepted: 28 January 2021 / Published: 3 February 2021
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: African American; Hispanic; European American; blacks; whites; health disparities; vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; UVB African American; Hispanic; European American; blacks; whites; health disparities; vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; UVB
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ames, B.N.; Grant, W.B.; Willett, W.C. Does the High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in African Americans Contribute to Health Disparities? Nutrients 2021, 13, 499. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020499

AMA Style

Ames BN, Grant WB, Willett WC. Does the High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in African Americans Contribute to Health Disparities? Nutrients. 2021; 13(2):499. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020499

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ames, Bruce N.; Grant, William B.; Willett, Walter C. 2021. "Does the High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in African Americans Contribute to Health Disparities?" Nutrients 13, no. 2: 499. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020499

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