A new study reveals that black Americans display lower levels of vitamin D and greater pain sensitivity compared to white Americans. Findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), indicate that vitamin D deficiency may be one of many factors that account for increased pain in older black Americans with knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Those with OA experience painful swelling and stiffness of the joints such as knees, hips and fingers. The National Arthritis Data Workgroup estimates that 27 million Americans over 25 years of age have OA (based on 2005 U.S. census data). A long-term study by researchers from the University of North Carolinathe Johnston County OA Projectsuggests that lifetime risk of developing knee OA is roughly 46%.
During the last decade medical evidence has uncovered the importance of vitamin D, not only as a vitamin that aids in calcium absorption, but as a powerful hormone with numerous functions throughout the body. In fact, studies have found that a decreased vitamin D level reduces immunity and may contribute to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Most vitamin D in humans comes from exposure to the sun, with research suggesting that a deficiency of this important vitamin may be due to more indoor activities, increased sunscreen use, and need for longer sun exposure for those with dark skin pigmentation. One study estimates that 95% of black Americans compared to 70% of white Americans have low levels of vitamin D.
"People associate vitamin D with good bone health," said lead author Toni Glover, MSN, ARNP, a research nurse practitioner and doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, specializing in the study of pain in older adults. "Yet, not everyone is aware of what factors decrease vitamin D and how low levels could contribute to health issues, including chronic pain."
Clinical practice guidelines state that vitamin D levels
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