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Vitamin D & Ethnicity

October 10, 2011

African-American men living in high latitudes are often deficient in Vitamin D.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Vitamin D & ethnicity…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause brittle bones and has been associated with certain cancers. Now, a new study suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to supplementation is not adequate to address the problem. Researchers Adam Murphy of Northwestern University and Rick Kittles of the University of Illinois, Chicago measured Vitamin D levels in nearly 700 Chicago-area men. Murphy says 63% of African-Americans were deficient in the nutrient, vs. 18% of European Americans.

ADAM MURPHY (Northwestern University):

Which translates into about a 3-1/2 times increased risk for vitamin D deficiency for African Americans.

HIRSHON:

He says African Americans in northern latitudes are particularly susceptible because they have more melanin in their skin. While melanin is protective against skin cancer, it also interferes with the skin’s ability to make Vitamin D. Murphy says that both men and women should discuss their specific supplementation needs with their doctor. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.