Vitamin D for Black and Brown People

May 29, 2022
4 Minutes

Vitamin D, aptly named the sunshine vitamin, is a natural molecule that is produced by the skin due to sunlight exposure. This ‘sunshine vitamin’ occupies a vital role in our health including bone health, immunity, and pregnancy among many others.

If our bodies naturally produce vitamin D, do I still need a supplement? Well no. But also, yes. Vitamin D is incredibly beneficial when produced at optimal levels and that can depend on a variety of factors. Sun exposure – specifically UVB light – is a critical ingredient in vitamin D synthesis and it is not always easy to come by for those of us who spend most of our days indoors, particularly through the winter months. To make matters more complex, dark skin absorbs more sunlight and thus requires more sun
exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as light skin. As a result, the darker your skin the more susceptible you are to low vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Though symptoms can include fatigue and body aches, it often does not present with any clear symptoms. However, low vitamin D can result in poor health outcomes even in those who are asymptomatic, so treatment is highly recommended. Without symptoms to give us clues about your vitamin D status,
actively ensuring you help your body maintain adequate levels is important. Here are some tips to make sure your vitamin D levels are at their best to keep you healthy.

  • Get some sun. Think about how much time you spend outdoors. Most of us are cooped up at work or school for most of the daylight hours and are robbing our skin of the opportunity to synthesise vitamin D. Take a lunchtime walk or go for a weekend picnic or any activity that will get you out in the sun help your skin produce more vitamin D – while being sun safe of course
  • Boost your diet. Vitamin D can also be found in the foods we consume including fish, egg yolk, and red meat. Though it’s not as effective as sunlight, adding these foods to your diet can help enhance your vitamin D levels.
  • Take a supplement. According to the NHS, most people cannot produce enough vitamin D from sunlight between in the months of October and March. Throughout the winter, most of us should consider taking a vitamin D supplement – containing 10mcg – to boost our levels until the spring.

Talk to your GP. If you think you may be vitamin D deficient or would benefit from taking a supplement throughout the year, discuss it with your GP. Your doctor can order a blood test to check your levels and make recommendations to best manage your health. Vitamin D in pregnancy. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement is recommended in
antenatal care to help maintain a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin D is included in the Healthy Start scheme and is offered for free during pregnancy through your doctor or midwife.

We all need vitamin D to keep us healthy and for those of us with dark skin, low vitamin D levels are common. Though sunlight is our best ally when it comes to Vitamin D production, taking a vitamin D supplement is often necessary to boost those levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Share this post