How Can Black Women Get Enough Vitamin D?
When we think of "vitamins," we know they are super-important for health. But it's not always easy getting your proper amount of vitamins, especially vitamin D. Consequently, it's a very common deficiency. Black women are especially deficient because pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin. This deficiency begins in puberty and continues throughout adulthood. And while Black women do not suffer from osteoporotic fractures because of the deficiency, vitamin D has been noted to fight other life-style diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers which are more prevalent in the Black community.
How much Vitamin D do we need?
Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.
Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The "official" minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU.
To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, here are three ways you can get your vitamin D on a weekly basis:
Your skin makes vitamin D when it's exposed to the sun; that's why it's referred to as the "sunshine vitamin." The process is amazing. How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and in some locations (and seasons of the year) it's not easy to get sun exposure. I love to go walking in the morning during summer. Adjustments should be made during warm seasons as sunscreen is recommended.
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish (full of Omegas), liver, and egg yolks. Some mushrooms make vitamin D when they're exposed to the sun. Also, some foods are "fortified" (which means vitamin D has been added) with vitamin D. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving. Foods that naturally contain Vitamin D are always the preferred source over fortified foods.
Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course). Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day. Thus our third way of getting your Vitamin D is below.
Vitamin D Supplements?
It's easy enough to just "pop a pill" or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra. But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won't interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice. AND do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.
The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys. To stay on the safe side, you can always ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.
In conclusion, vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels in their system. In addition to absorption difficulty with darker skin, extra weight my also pose absorption problems. If you are struggling to maintain proper levels, I've given you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-800 IU or vitamin D daily.
If you're concerned, it's best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what's right for you. Always take supplements as directed.
Here is a quick and easy recipe that will help you get your vitamin D.
Super-Simple Grilled Salmon
4 wild salmon fillets
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried dill
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin-side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.
2. Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.
4. Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Serve with a side of rice or quinoa.
You can increase your Vitamin D with the Healthy Curves Tribe this summer! We are launching our 2018 Walk and Water Challenges. We are excited to offer this event several times this summer and partner with you on your Size Healthy journey. RSVP today! It Free!