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It’s well known that African Americans have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. In fact, this seems to be generally true for humans of tropical origin. In a study from Hawaii, vitamin D status was assessed in healthy, visibly tanned young adults who averaged 22.4 hours per week of unprotected sun exposure. Yet... Read More
Why are Europeans so pale-skinned? The most popular explanation is the vitamin-D hypothesis. Originally developed by Murray (1934) and Loomis (1967), it has been most recently presented by Chaplin and Jablonski (2009). It can be summarized as follows: 1. To absorb calcium and phosphorus from food passing through the gut, humans need vitamin D. This... Read More
The English, like other Western nations, were once plagued by rickets—a softening of the bones leading to fractures and deformity, particularly in children. Initially rare, it became much more frequent after 1600 and had reached epidemic levels by the turn of the 20th century (Gibbs, 1994; Harrison, 1966; Holick, 2006; Rajakumar, 2003). A survey at... Read More
In my previous posts, I argued that a homeostatic mechanism keeps the level of vitamin D in our bloodstream within a certain range. When UV-B light is always intense, as in the tropics, the level seems to be 50-75 nmol/L in young adults and progressively lower in older age groups. The more sunlight varies seasonally,... Read More
How can vitamin-D deficiency exist despite lengthy sun exposure? This apparent paradox was raised in my last post. The medical community now recommends bloodstream vitamin D levels of at least 75-150 nmol/L, yet these levels are not reached by many tanned, outdoorsy people. In a study from Hawaii, vitamin D status was assessed in 93... Read More
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