Would you like to cut your risk of stroke by half? Get a vitamin D level checked, and if you’re low, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement. Recent research shows that Caucasians who are deficient in vitamin D double their risk of stroke. Surprisingly, the same doesn’t hold true for African-Americans. A low vitamin D level doesn’t seem to affect their risk of having a stroke.
Deficiency in Vitamin D and Stroke: Race Matters
Vitamin D is the third most common cause of death in this country, and even when it doesn’t kill, a stroke can lead to permanent disability. The risk of stroke is higher among African-Americans, and researchers had hoped that correcting any deficiency in vitamin D would lower their risk as it does in Caucasians. According to recent research from Johns Hopkins, correcting vitamin D deficiency in blacks doesn’t seem to reduce their chances of having a stroke.
Why would correcting deficiency of vitamin D in African-Americans not affect their stroke risk as it does in whites? For some unknown reason, a low vitamin D level doesn’t have the same negative impact in blacks as it does in whites. Low vitamin D levels are associated with bone fractures in Caucasians, but blacks don’t have the same increased risk when they’re deficient in vitamin D.
It’s Still Important to Correct a Deficiency in Vitamin D
Black people are more likely to be vitamin D deficient because they absorb less of it from the sun due to the blocking effects of melanin – the pigment that gives skin its color. It takes more sun exposure for a dark-skinned person to absorb adequate quantities of vitamin D than a person with lighter skin.
Having a deficiency in vitamin D may not increase the risk of stroke in African-Americans, but it still may increase the risk of other chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and some cancers – as research suggests that it does in whites.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Stroke: The Bottom Line?
All Americans should have a vitamin D level checked and if it’s low talk to their doctor about correcting it. Low vitamin D levels can contribute to fatigue and low energy levels, and most people feel better once their levels are normal. Don’t underestimate the importance of the “sunshine vitamin”.
Medical News Today. “Lack of Vitamin D Ups Fatal Stroke Risk for Caucasians, Not for African-Americans”.