Registered Dietitian, Roxane Bakker, delves into why the UK’s Black community is more susceptible to the deficiency and advises on how to boost Vitamin D levels
A new study conducted by Vitl has revealed that over 75% of the UK’s Black population could be Vitamin D deficient.
The study was conducted by the team behind the leading personalised vitamin and nutrition company, www.Vitl.com, who asked 2,500 of the UK’s Black population questions relating to their physical health, ahead of Channel 4’s Black to Front Campaign which takes place on Friday 10th September.
One of the most significant findings showed that just over 75% of the participants in the study of the UK’s Black population are very likely to be recognised as Vitamin D deficient.
Of those in the group who were recognised as high risk, some of the most common symptoms included:
- Getting sick frequently (24%)
- Feeling tired a lot of the time (22%)
- Muscle weakness (20%)
- Bone pain (18%)
- Low mood (16%)
The same group were also asked questions relating to their diet and lifestyle, as weight has been linked to vitamin D deficiency, and it was found that 54% admitting that they exercised ‘infrequently’, while 43% admitted that they don’t consume the recommended daily five portions of fruit and vegetables.
Why is the Black population more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency?
“Whilst weight and time spent in direct sunlight are both factors that can affect Vitamin D levels, research has shown that skin colour can play a part too” says Roxane Bakker, Registered Dietitian and Head of Nutrition at www.Vitl.com.
“Our skin contains melanin, which is the pigment that gives our skin its colour. It’s been found over years of published studies that individuals who have more melanin, and therefore a darker skin pigmentation, are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. This is because having more melanin reduces your body’s ability to synthesise Vitamin D from the sun, resulting in lower levels.”
What does Vitamin D help with and how can someone obtain more of the vitamin?
“Not only does Vitamin D help the body to absorb calcium which maintains bone health, but it’s also paramount for cell growth and immune function” says Roxane, who specialises in vitamin and nutritional health.
“A lack of Vitamin D in some extreme cases can lead to bone deformities in children, such as rickets or a bone pain condition called osteomalacia in adults.
“Although Vitamin D can be found in sources of our food (such as oily fish, dairy products) as well as exposure from direct sunlight, here in the UK, we don’t tend to see all that much sun, making it really difficult particularly in the winter to get the required daily dose of vitamin D. A convenient and easy solution is supplementing alongside your diet and sun exposure. This way you’ll be able to meet your recommended Vitamin D intake.”
Speaking on the findings from the study, Roxane also emphasises how important it is that when it comes to recommending the appropriate levels of Vitamin D, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not enough:
“If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing a Vitamin D deficiency, or perhaps any other vitamin deficiency, we recommend taking a look at your levels by doing a blood test. This will give you an accurate snapshot of your nutritional status and will help you make informed decisions about supplementing. Another test that may be worth doing is a DNA test This will show you which areas you are more likely to be deficient in based on your genes. The two together give you a full picture of your micronutrient requirements.”
Vitl will be taking part in Channel 4’s Black to Front Project this Friday, where they will be airing their TV advert, which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTcq92R4dPA
About Channel 4’s Black to Front Project
Channel 4’s Black to Front Project features major new commissions and reimagines some of Channel 4’s biggest mainstream shows to focus on Black talent and transform Black representation in front of and behind the camera. It aims to amplify Black talent, stories, and voices by bringing them to the forefront on screen and off screen.