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Subject:  Re: Dark skin? Supplement Vitamin D! Date:  10/21/2009  3:48 PM
Author:  WendyBG Number:  1936 of 1964

<most black people don't feel the need to 'lay out' in the sun to tan.>

The sun in Africa is very strong. Most of the UV rays (which can cause cancer) are screened out by melanin, the dark pigment in the skin. Enough gets through to give Africans Vitamin D...if they live under the strong African sun.

The darker the skin, the more effective the screening. Good for skin cancer. Bad for Vitamin D, if the black person lives in an area with weak sun.

Even if a black person "lays out" in the sun to tan, they may still not get enough rays penetrating to make enough Vitamin D. That goes double if they live in, say, Chicago instead of Miami.

I think it's important for each of us to get a blood test for Vitamin D. That's the only way to know whether your particular skin and sun exposure are making adequate Vitamin D. If you are dark, live in the northern states, and don't spend much time in the sun, the answer is probably no. During the winter, the answer is definitely no.

White people at least can build up a reserve of Vitamin D during the summer, if they spend enough time in the sun. Vitamin D is a fat soluble molecule, which is stored in the body for a couple of months. But black people may not have a summer reserve, if the sun in their locality is weak.

Black men have a higher rate of prostate cancer than white men. Nobody seems to know why. Is Vitamin D deficiency the cause?

Vitamin D is very cheap. Costco has 1000 mg pills for 5 cents each. The diseases that correlate with Vitamin D deficiency are devastating. The blood tests are $40 each -- not cheap, but not terribly expensive.

I think it's worth getting a baseline blood test (your current lifestyle). Then take supplements for a while and take another blood test.

I don't follow the African-American press, but I haven't heard this described as a black health issue in the general press. If 10 cents a day per person can significantly improve the health of the whole black population, why isn't everyone talking about it?

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