Monday, November 19, 2012

Maintaining Adequate Levels of Vitamin D in darker skin

Hello friends,

In this post, I will share with you my quest to increasing my Vitamin D levels, health issues that may arise with inadequate Vitamin D levels, and the importance of maintaining Vitamin D levels. Most importantly, I am looking for any recommendations and advice on how I can increase my Vitamin D levels.

During my annual doctor visit, a few weeks ago, a simple blood test indicated that my Vitamin D levels were very low. As a result, I was prescribed Vitamin D supplements, which I’m currently taking. I must admit that I never really paid attention to Vitamin D before; but, knowing that my Vitamin D levels were low prompted me to take action. Based on a quick Google search, I had to take more of an active role in making sure that my Vitamin D levels are up to par.

Vitamin D is very important in the body for several reasons: 
  1. Promotes Calcium absorption in the gut
  2. Maintains adequate serum Calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bones. I NEED strong bones!
Vitamin D and disease prevention 
Vitamin D has recently been shown to lower the risk of diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, tuberculosis, memory loss and several types of cancer {Source}.

Currently, I’m on this quest to increase my Vitamin D levels.
Presently, I am increasing my sun exposure.  Now, this is not an easy thing for me since its cold outside and it gets dark at about 4:30 pm. I usually hibernate during the colder temperatures and in the winter. So, this is not an easy task for me. I’m increasing my sun exposure over the weekend when I have more time to go out during the day or sun bathe for about 30 minutes at home.  

Now, I’m a black woman, which means that when it comes to producing Vitamin D via sun exposure, I have a bit more difficulty doing so compared to someone with fairer skin. For this reason, melanin in my skin affects my ability to activate pre-vitamin D. So the darker the skin, the less vitamin D you produce. Hence, the minimum of 30 minutes sun bathing.

So, I’m sun bathing and taking Vitamin D supplements. What else can I do?

For those of you who have dark skin, how do you make sure that you get adequate amounts of Vitamin D (especially during the winter)?  Are you using certain foods? What do you recommend?