Entertainment

Darker Skin Leads to More Health Problems?

Wed., Aug. 17, 2011 3:13 PM EDT
by Terry Shropshire

We’ve all heard the mantra “the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” And it is common knowledge that melanin protects darker skin from the ravages of premature aging and too much exposure to ultraviolet sunrays. But having more melanin also helps to increase the prospect of attracting other diseases and ailments, physicians and researchers have concluded.

The body produces vitamin D naturally when it is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, which helps to keep the bones strong. But since melanin happens to block UV rays, it also inhibits vitamin D production in the body, says Dr. Valerie D. Callender, an associate professor of dermatology at Howard University.

Researchers state in several studies that this is why anywhere from 36 to 97 percent of African Americans have low levels of vitamin D. Couple this with poor dietary intake of vitamin D from dairy, given the prevalence of lactose-intolerance in the black community, and it explains why blacks have higher cases of brittle bones, rickets and osteoporosis during their advanced years.

But it doesn’t stop there. New research reveals a link between the more common type of breast cancer in African American women, triple-negative breast cancer, and low vitamin D levels.

A 2008 study tied low vitamin D levels to an overall increased chance of early death.

“Vitamin D levels in the blood are associated with prostate, colon and breast cancer,” says Dr. Rick Kittles, director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But, we don’t know the mechanism.”

A recent study of 89 New York Giants players showed that players with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to be injured. Over 90 percent of the African American players were vitamin D deficient, with levels lower than white players who were also deficient.

The body also leverages the benefits of vitamin D for important daily functions. The immune system needs the nutrient that vitamin D provides to fight bacteria and viruses. Nerves also need it to effectively carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Without vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium, researchers state.

Latrice Landry, a researcher at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, says UV absorption is different for blacks and whites.

“Though someone with pale skin can get adequate vitamin D by exposing their arms and legs to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes twice a week in the summer, someone with the darkest skin might need two hours of exposure each time,” she says.

While sunscreen blocks some UV rays, skipping sunscreen to boost vitamin D production is not advised given the well-proven risk of skin cancer.

“For optimal health, I would recommend a vitamin D supplement, especially for anyone, not just African Americans, living in cold climates,” Landry adds. “Other suggestions are to eat foods fortified with vitamin D.”

What are the best foods to receive natural vitamin D besides UV rays? Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are the best dietary forms. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, but many blacks have trouble digesting it properly. Be advised that products made from milk, like cheese and ice cream, do not have vitamin D properties in them. Other foods have vitamin D artificially added like certain cereals and orange juice.

terry shropshire

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  • Datruth

    terri this is bullsh t humens have been on earth long enough not to get caught in these fake un true theoryies my grandmother & all her sibilings live to 80’s & 90’s, the people that do all that sun tanning outside and at sun tanning salons are the ones that have health problems once they become darker then they was blacks people are fine stop printing these fake theoryies trying to prove light is better then dark skins, questions for you terry how old was ” ROSA PARKS ”  

    • Terry

      Datruth, I am very dark-skinned. That wipes out your entire [non] argument. It would be ludicrous for me, a dark man, to print something that would supposedly promote light-skinned people as being better than me. Please try to insult me in some other manner than the one you’ve employed. 

      • Datruth

        ok you want me to come in a different manor, ok here you go i didnt say that you didnt read that untrue bs you printing i’m saying the fools that printed this nonsence is wrong and for you to believe this and print this is foolish, its like more garbage trying to prove light skined is better then dark skin, and you dont believe this bs you just trying to print so news to make people think you no something, and like i said before how old was rosa parks, and she aint the only dark skinned person that live that long cause light skinned people dont die young this artical is a joke, you have had some good ones but dis here is a joke dawg o yeah how old was rosa parks explain to me how did she get that old and cicely tyson explain how these women get that old, come on terri i like you man i didnt say your intentions was bad there were good, but i think that info you read was some more of light is better then dark. p.s. dont leave out how old is rosa & cicely peace jayne doe feel datruth !  

      • Datruth

        ok you want me to come in a different manor, ok here you go i didnt say that you didnt read that untrue bs you printing i’m saying the fools that printed this nonsence is wrong and for you to believe this and print this is foolish, its like more garbage trying to prove light skined is better then dark skin, and you dont believe this bs you just trying to print so news to make people think you no something, and like i said before how old was rosa parks, and she aint the only dark skinned person that live that long cause light skinned people dont die young this artical is a joke, you have had some good ones but dis here is a joke dawg o yeah how old was rosa parks explain to me how did she get that old and cicely tyson explain how these women get that old, come on terri i like you man i didnt say your intentions was bad there were good, but i think that info you read was some more of light is better then dark. p.s. dont leave out how old is rosa & cicely peace jayne doe feel datruth !  

        • Terry

          Datruth, it’s quite disturbing to me that you come off as such a fool. I enjoy intellectual debates but I cannot match wits with the witless who have great difficulty understanding even the most basic of the  English language. Dark-skinned blacks, who may have a deficiency of Vitamin D because of higher concentrations of melanin, simply need to procure the vitamin from some other source — as is pointed out in the article — such as salmon or milk. This is stated quite clearly in the article. This why someone like Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman can age so gracefully, for they probably get their daily intake of all the necessary vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly and probably abstain from nicotine and alcohol.

          By the way, Rosa Parks is light-skinned. So your argument is, once again, extremely flawed and lacks reason.  

        • Terry

          Datruth, it’s quite disturbing to me that you come off as such a fool. I enjoy intellectual debates but I cannot match wits with the witless who have great difficulty understanding even the most basic of the  English language. Dark-skinned blacks, who may have a deficiency of Vitamin D because of higher concentrations of melanin, simply need to procure the vitamin from some other source — as is pointed out in the article — such as salmon or milk. This is stated quite clearly in the article. This why someone like Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman can age so gracefully, for they probably get their daily intake of all the necessary vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly and probably abstain from nicotine and alcohol.

          By the way, Rosa Parks is light-skinned. So your argument is, once again, extremely flawed and lacks reason.  

          • Datruth

            ok terry you won, i appreciate yo feed back because you didnt even have to respond to me but you did and thats down to earth in my book, i do supports most of your articals and i will always read your articals when you print them thanks again on being down to earth enough to debate with me God bless you dawg peace & have a great evening

    • Gerald

      Rosa Parks is fair-skinned, with a complexion that comes nowhere close to that of Cicely Tyson’s. Datruth, aren’t you countering your own point by using her name in this context?  The power of your brain nor the validity of your argument are at all being discounted here, but the accuracy of your vision may just be a little off.

      • Datruth

        tyson & parks are 2 black women not comparing them im pointing out 2 black humens that lived long so dont hide behind new names terri, as you can see no one agrees with you on this point peace ! o yeah please answer the question how old is parks & tyson, my point is that blacks live just as long as any other race just like eervin44 said its all up on how humens take care of they self, terri are you in agreement with God making light skined people better then dark are you saying that GOD is unfair for any of these fake theoryies to be true GOD would have to be unfair and GOD is not unfair so thank before you speak and obama then told yall that blacks aint is dumb as they say we is so dont get mad dawg cause we dont believe that bull sh** peace

  • JAYNE DOH!

    JUST TELL BLACK FOLKS THAT THEY NEED 10 TO 15 MINUTES OF SUN A DAY
    NOT A BIG ISSUE.

    MORE RACE-BAITING BULLSH1T.

    • Terry

      So, the fact that I tell black folks something that will aid them is race-baiting? Are you kidding me, Jayne Doh?!? It is medically proven that having dark skin aids in the graceful aging process. It is also now proven that darker skin — or melanin, if you prefer the term — blocks some of the vital Vitamin D that every human being needs. And in the article, I refer to physicians and researchers on how to get Vitamin D. How is this race-baiting, I ask again??? 

      • Datruth

        o yeah cause the only old people we see in america is light skinned and we have never saw any old dark skin people, now terri if you have saw some old dark people in yo life time and still printed this, dont get mad cause we all dont believe everthing we read and ignore what we see, you will never run across a brain like mind, feel me dawg i can help you become the best journalist keep reading my comments have a great day !

  • Eervin44

    My thing is all race have health problem, we have the same blood, it’s not just dark people:( Please don’t judge, it’s all about taking care of your self, exercising, drinking plenty of water which is execellent for your health and skin, taking a vitamin a day is very helpful too.. I can say Dark Skin is Sexy, just had to throw that in I’m just saying:) Peace….

  • Eervin44

    My thing is all race have health problem, we have the same blood, it’s not just dark people:( Please don’t judge, it’s all about taking care of your self, exercising, drinking plenty of water which is execellent for your health and skin, taking a vitamin a day is very helpful too.. I can say Dark Skin is Sexy, just had to throw that in I’m just saying:) Peace….

  • Eervin44

    My thing is all race have health problem, we have the same blood, it’s not just dark people:( Please don’t judge, it’s all about taking care of your self, exercising, drinking plenty of water which is execellent for your health and skin, taking a vitamin a day is very helpful too.. I can say Dark Skin is Sexy, just had to throw that in I’m just saying:) Peace….

    • Terry

      Wow, someone actually read and understood what I’m saying. Thank you Eervin44 for actually comprehending accurately what was written. 

    • Terry

      Wow, someone actually read and understood what I’m saying. Thank you Eervin44 for actually comprehending accurately what was written. 

  • Karmabytch

    BULLSHYT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! STOP ATTACKING BLACK PEOPLE,  ESP. BEAUTIFUL DARK SKINNED PEOPLE.  Your propaganda doesn’t work anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!  LOVE YOURSELF BLACK/AFRICAN/AFRICAN-AMERICAN/BLACKENGLISH, etc., no matter & whatever continent your are in/on right now.  It is true the statement, white people, whom want this to be the norm don’t have to lift a finger anymore to keep BLACK PEOPLE down.  They have trained a substantial amount of BLACK PEOPLE to keep their foot on the necks of their own people & every last one of you who believes this diseased way of thinking should really be ashamed of yourselves. #Always&Always will love African/Black People.