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Epidemic Vitamin D Deficiency for Women of Color

Updated on December 28, 2014

Beautiful Cocoa, Caramel, Olive or just Naturally ‘Kissed by the Sun’ Skin-Toned Sisters: Please answer 3-simple questions...

  • Do you live in Anchorage, Seattle or Portland, Columbus or Baltimore, Buffalo or Boston, Montreal or Beautiful British Columbia, or any other Northern areas in between?
  • Are you blessed with a somewhat pleasingly curvaceous body type?
  • Do milk, yogurt, ice cream and other lactose laden products play fast and loose with your gut?

If you've answered yes to these questions, here is a tip that could potentially save your life: Get your Vitamin D level checked! This is especially significant for women 50 years or older, but younger women are not excluded from the health risks of low vitamin D levels.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue & Low energy
  • Muscle aches, cramping, pains & weakness
  • Chronic pain
  • Joint aches/pains
  • Weight gain & Difficulty losing
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbances & Restlessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches & Migranes
  • Bladder/urination problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Dangerous Levels of Deficiency:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment in older adults
  • Severe Asthma (Children)
  • Cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lupus

You Heard Me Right… It Could Possibly Save Your Life:

In past vitamin D was mainly discussed as a cure for rickets or the kissing cousin to calcium and phosphorus to prevent bone loss. Now Vitamin D is understood to be very essential for many organs and body systems including brain, heart, immune, reproductive and more.

The melanin in the various shades of brown skin and extra curvy goodness may be exquisitely beautiful, but it also prevents much of the UV sunlight rays from transforming inactive Vitamin D found in the layers of our skin into the active forms of Vitamin D our bodies desperately need. Also, women who are lactose intolerant may not digest and use the Vitamin D received from milk and other sources. For this reason, many brown complexion women are suffering with undiagnosed and untreated Vitamin D deficiencies. This is very serious because it can lead to many life threatening ailments.

Vitamin D at Optimal Levels Aids in Healing and Promotes Wellness for Many Ailments:

  • Breast, ovarian, colorectal and other forms of cancer
  • Heart Disease & high blood pressure
  • Type-II Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Adult Depression & Childhood Schizophrenia
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Alzheimer’s & Dementia
  • Illnesses due to viruses or bacterial infections


What should my Vitamin D Level be? A Lab draw or a blood spot test will determine your levels:

  • Deficient = Less than 20 ng/mL
  • Insufficient = 20 to 29 ng/mL <--- Most African Americans (95%) are here
  • Sufficient = 30 ng/mL or more
  • Potentially harmful = More than 150 ng/mL

Holick, MF (2007). “Vitamin D Deficiency,” New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 357, No. 3, pp. 266–80.

Dr. Kelechi Egwim on Vitamin D

How Much Sun Do I Need? Growing evidence suggests basking in the sun; without sun screen as follows

  • 1.5 - 2 hours = Dark and lovely skin tones 'Chestnut to Ebony'
  • 15 minutes- 1.5 hours = Varying 'Cocoa to Carmel' lovely skin tones
  • 15 minutes = Light and lovely skin or those who might get sun burned easily

***Safe UVB Tanning Booths work just as well*** (2014) "About Vitamin-D: How Do I Get The Vitamin-D My Body Needs"


What is Vitamin D and How Does It Work?

Vitamin D is more like a hormone than a vitamin. In fact, some texts refer vitamin D as a ‘prohormone’. Our bodies naturally create this prohormone which is housed in the waxy-greasy-cholesterol of our skin. There is one major difference from true hormones (i.e. thyroid, testosterone or estrogen…) and prohormone vitamin D. Those other hormones are produced entirely within our bodies, generally stored in their own glands (i.e. thyroid, testes, ovaries…) and they do not require much help from outside sources. On the other hand, ‘prohormone’ vitamin D is housed throughout our skin, requires the direct assistance of warm, invisible UV sun rays to help it transform or synthesize it into the full fledged vitamin D that we love so much. It Doesn’t Stop There… Once UV rays synthesize the prohormone into Vitamin D, it then travels in our blood on to the liver for processing, fast forward on to the kidneys for even more processing, then transforms into the active and usable form of Vitamin D called “calcitriol” that helps in many cells throughout our body.

Simple Breakdown of Vitamin D: Oily skin lets the sunlight in…

  1. Prohormone vitamin D is found in our skin’s stored cholesterol (a.k.a 7-dehydrocholesterol)
  2. Invisible UV rays of the sun (UVB) interacts and changes prohormone vitamin D into Vitamin D3
  3. Vitamin D3 is carried through the Blood on to the Liver
  4. Liver converts Vitamin D3 into Calcidiol vitamin D
  5. Calcidiol vitamin D is carried through the blood on to the kidneys
  6. Kidneys convert this into the active Calcitriol Vitamin-D
  7. Calcitriol Vitamin-D travels through via blood throughout the body binding to various target cells

One of the most fascinating functions of Vitamin D…. Prevention of Illness through our Immune System: Did you know our bodies produce their own antibiotics. Not only antibiotics but also produces antifungals, antivirals and antiparasitics as well. It’s called ‘cathelicidin’ which are a group of amino acids that either attach to or enter into the invading bug-a-boo microbes in order to deactivate them. Vitamin D plays a role in activating the fu-fighting cathelicidins when invaders are present.

Too many of us are dying from preventable diseases, disorders or suffering with avoidable illnesses and seasonal infections. We cannot sit back and wait for someone to fix the problem for us; we must start a grassroots effort to promote Vitamin D among women with brown skin.

Now is the time!

  1. Ask your health care provider for a lab test
  2. If you do not have a doctor, you can purchase a Vitamin D test kit today
  3. Go get your Vitamin D supplements TODAY
  4. Spend time outdoors everyday to receive natural Vitamin D or consider a tanning bed (yes, I know… do it anyway!)
  5. Please don’t keep it to yourself! Tell someone else and please share this article


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