It is well known that African Americans as an average have higher blood pressure than Caucasians. A recent study may help explain the disparity. Dr. Fiscella using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that there is a relationship to blood pressure and serum vitamin D levels.
Due to darker skin color and higher levels of melanin African Americans are not able to make as much Vitamin D in the sun as Caucasians. In the study 61% of African Americans were in the lowest fifth of serum vitamin D levels as opposed to 11% of Caucasians.
Dr. Fiscella, in a more recent study using the NHANES data looked at racial disparities in albuminurea which is the presence of protein in the urine. Albuminurea is often a consequence of high blood pressure and it was found that 10% of African Americans had albuminurea as opposed to 6% of Caucasians.
These observations provide hope that a simple treatment would be to supplement vitamin D in African Americans. We attempt to do a vitamin D status on all of our African American patients and suggest they take 5000 IUs of vitamin D daily if they have lower Vitamin D levels. We don’t know if supplementation is the cure as the studies haven’t been done. However it certainly won’t hurt and we do know that lower levels of Vitamin D are related to a variety of diseases.
Another recent study worth discussing is from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The Journal discusses that both African American children and Caucasian children with lower serum vitamin D had higher levels of adipose or fat. However African Americans had fat stored mostly under the skin while Caucasian children had fat stored between their organs.
We believe there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. There are also epidemics of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. We do know that lower levels of vitamins D may be related to all of them. Vitamin D is one of the most inexpensive supplements on the market today. Is there a good reason not to add it to you daily supplement protocol?