A Health Matter By Tasha Johnson

July 7, 2014

In our very first health segment we will discuss an issue that affects African American women that many are unaware of.  I’m not talking about diabetes, hypertension or cholesterol.  I’m speaking about vitamin D and its deficiency.  For starters, what is vitamin D?  Vitamin D is a nutrient that our body needs.  It’s not like most vitamins where you need to take a supplement to get the required dose.  Our body can make its own vitamin D.  This happens when we expose our skin to direct sunlight.  Most vitamins we get come from the foods we eat, like fruits and vegetables, these two are linked to getting vitamin C.  Unlike with vitamin C, getting the adequate amount of vitamin D does not depend on the food you eat.  Exposing your skin to sunlight on a regular basis can help you get the vitamin D that you need.  Some of the things that vitamin D helps with in our bodies are: brain development, respiratory system (lungs and airways), Immune system, this helps fight infections, cardiovascular health (heart and circulation), and of course the structure of our bones and overall health.  So why does this affect African American women more?  Well its simple, WE DON’T LIKE TO BE EXPOSED TO THE SUN.  Contrary to the belief about the sun, people with darker skin need to be exposed because of the pigment MELANIN.  This reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to being exposed to sunlight.  Unfortunately, tests to detect your level of vitamin D are not standard or mandated tests and you will have to ask your doctor to run one for you.  These tests should be asked of your doctor if you are darker in skin, work at night (meaning you more than likely sleep during the day and by doing so you limit yourself to sunlight), or people with certain skin illnesses such as severe cases of eczema, which may create a personal issue where you may not want your skin to be seen, or people with milk allergies.  Some studies show that strictly breastfed babies may not receive the proper amount of vitamin D through the mother’s breast milk.  Thus, some doctors may argue the need for vitamin D supplement drops for infants.  Therefore, if any of these contributing factors affect you in your daily lifestyle look out for things such as tiredness and general aches and pains and in severe cases there maybe pain or weakness in your bones. These are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, while some may suffer from this deficiency unknowingly as they show no symptoms at all.

via – Tasha Johnson