What are the racial predilections of vitamin D deficiency?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020
  • Author: Vin Tangpricha, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Darker skin interferes with the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D. A study by Holick and coauthors demonstrated that non-Hispanic black subjects require 6 times the amount of UV radiation necessary to produce a serum vitamin D concentration similar to that found in non-Hispanic white subjects. [31] The explanation for the increased radiation necessary to increase vitamin D levels is that melanin absorbs ultraviolet radiation.

The decreased efficacy of vitamin D production by darker-pigmented skin explains the higher prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency among darker-skinned adults. Dawson-Hughes and colleagues demonstrated that in Boston, 73% of elderly black subjects were vitamin D insufficient, compared with 35% of elderly non-Hispanic whites. [32]

In a large survey of 1500 healthy black women younger than 50 years, 40% were vitamin D deficient (25[OH]D < 16ng/mL), compared with 4% of 1400 white women in that study. [33]


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