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The uncertain significance of low vitamin D levels in African descent populations: a review of the bone and cardiometabolic literature

O'Connor, Michelle Y.; Thoreson, Caroline K.; Ramsey, Natalie L. M.; Ricks, Madia; Sumner, Anne E.

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PMID: 24267433 PMCID: PMC3894250


Vitamin D levels in people of African descent are often described as inadequate or deficient. Whether low vitamin D levels in people of African descent lead to compromised bone or cardiometabolic health is unknown. Clarity on this issue is essential because if clinically significant vitamin D deficiency is present, vitamin D supplementation is necessary. However, if vitamin D is metabolically sufficient, vitamin D supplementation could be wasteful of scarce resources and even harmful. In this review vitamin D physiology is described with a focus on issues specific to populations of African descent such as the influence of melanin on endogenous vitamin D production and lactose intolerance on the willingness of people to ingest vitamin D fortified foods. Then data on the relationship of vitamin D to bone and cardiometabolic health in people of African descent are evaluated.

Automatic Tags

Africa; Humans; Osteoporosis; Vitamin D; Vitamin D Deficiency; UVB; VDR; Lactose Intolerance; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; NHANES; African Continental Ancestry Group; Morbidity; Institute of Medicine; African Diaspora; Africans; BMD; FDA; Federal Drug Administration; IOM; Melanin; parathyroid hormone; PTH; ultraviolet B; WHI-OS; Women's Health Initiative–Observational Study

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