Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as an epidemic in the United States. When it comes to people of color, the situation is most concerning. 

It is estimated that 82 percent of Blacks and 63 percent of Hispanics are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, compared to 31 percent of Caucasians.

According to recent studies, most Americans with darker skin tones do not have optimal vitamin D. Several reasons could lead to a deficiency. However, the main reason for people of color is due to the fact that darker pigmentation reduces vitamin D production on the skin. A lack of this important vitamin can lead to a number of serious health issues, not to mention increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

What is Vitamin D?

Our bodies need a certain amount of vitamin D to maintain a healthy, functioning immune system. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that maintains skeletal health. It is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” since our bodies naturally produce it when we are exposed to the sun. 

For people with lighter skin tones, only 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure is needed to produce more than 20,000 IU (500 mcg) of vitamin D. However, it can take three to six times longer for people with darker skin tones to produce the same amount.

Melanin is a pigment that gives everyone their skin, hair, and eye color. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin tone will be. Melanin also acts as a natural sunscreen and protects the skin from sun damage. While that natural SPF is a great thing, the downside is melanin can reduce a person’s ability to make vitamin D from sun exposure by up to 99 percent.

Complications with Vitamin D Deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin D has been implicated in the development of numerous conditions, including autoimmune diseases, diseases of the heart, lungs, metabolism, or kidneys, as well as diabetes and cancer. 

Statistics show people of color are more likely to experience these health complications than Caucasians. Women of color are also more likely to suffer issues during pregnancy and increased fatal outcomes due to a lack of proper vitamin D levels.

There is also growing evidence that proper amounts of vitamin D can lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19. In a recent study at the University of Chicago, patients with a vitamin D deficiency were almost twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared the patients whose vitamin D levels were normal.

Other Low Vitamin D Factors 

In addition to skin tone, there are several other factors that can influence your vitamin D levels. 

  • LocationThe further away from the Equator you live, the less vitamin D-producing UVB light reaches the Earth’s surface during the winter. 
  • Air quality The burning of fossil fuels, wood, and other materials scatter carbon particles into the air and absorb UVB rays, diminishing vitamin D production.
  • WeightStudies show that being obese is correlated with low vitamin D levels and that being overweight may affect the bioavailability of vitamin D.
  • AgeOlder people have lower levels of melanin in the skin that converts into vitamin D. Research also suggests older people are less efficient vitamin D producers than younger people.

Know Your Levels

Having your vitamin D blood levels tested is the only way to be certain. Vitamin D testing is not part of a standard doctor visit. However, it is a blood test that is offered by Any Lab Test Now®.

No fasting is required, and you do not need to visit your doctor first to get the test done. Test results generally take between 24 to 72 business hours.

Click here to learn more about Any Lab Test Now’s Vitamin D testing

Be at Ease

At Any Lab Test Now, we understand that people may have concerns about going to a healthcare facility during the coronavirus pandemic. You can be at ease knowing that we are providing you a safe and clean location for your lab work. Each of our 190+ stores are sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. When you get your test results, you can easily make a telemedicine appointment with your physician and share the details. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you to make educated healthcare decisions that can benefit your quality of life.

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