The July, 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that 42 percent of African American women have low blood levels of vitamin D. Compare this to only 4.2 percent in Caucasians. That means that African Americans are ten times more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency than Caucasians. Lack of vitamin D interferes with immunity and a person's ability to kill germs and cancer cells.
Every day, a man's body makes millions of prostate cancer cells. His immunity then filters out these cells and prevents them from growing. With impaired immunity, the cancer cells grow to form solid prostate cancer. All men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough, but the average Caucasian develops prostate cancer after age 85, while the average African American develops it many years earlier. Until recently, no one could explain why this is so, but vitamin D deficiency is the likely answer.
Very few North Americans meet their needs for vitamin D from the foods that they eat. The foods that are rich sources of vitamin D are often rich sources of cholesterol, so doctors tell us to avoid rich sources of vitamin D such as liver, kidney and eggs. So we have to meet our needs for vitamin D from sunlight. However, people of color require far more ultraviolet light to make vitamin D than those who have lighter skins.
Up to the 1920's, the deformed bones of rickets were very common. People had meager diets and they worked twelve hours a day in factories so they did not expose their skins to sunlight, and young children would have terrible deformed bones because they lacked vitamin D. The emblem of the American Academy of Pediatrics shows an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, layers of cloth bound around the knees to tie the knees together to prevent the legs from being bowed. If course the bands of cloth were worthless, and rickets disappeared when doctors started to recommend vitamin D supplements.
Mothers who are deficient in vitamin D have breast milk that lacks vitamin D and give birth to children with very low blood levels of vitamin D. Lack of vitamin D damages immunity to cause cancers, diabetes and infections. My advice is for everyone to take a minute and think about your vitamin D status. You can get vitamin D from vitamin supplements, fish oils, fish, breakfast cereals, and a small amount from milk fortified with vitamin D. If you do not eat fish at least four times a week, take vitamin D supplements or eat vitamin D fortified breakfast cereals, you must expose your skin to sunlight for several minutes each day. If you are not sure that you get adequate amounts, you should go to your doctor and request a blood test for vitamin D. African Americans are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency because of their darker skin. If your blood level of vitamin D is below 15 micrograms /liter, you should take 400 international units or 5 micrograms of vitamin D each day. I am convinced that you will be preventing cancer and infections, and women will be protecting their future babies from all infections and possibly birth defects. Don't wait for the medical community to agree on this.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July, 2002
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