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A Lot Of Black Women Are Vitamin D Deficient. Here's The Fix.

Vitamin D is really important. On a few levels.

Wellness

There are a couple of reasons why I thought that this was an important article to write. For starters, did you know that while around 40 percent of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, a whopping 76 percent of those within the Black community are? Not only that but those who are considered to be obese are 70 percent more likely to have this deficiency than those who aren't. And just why is this the case within our specific ethnic demographic? It's actually linked to the fabulous thing that we all have called melanin. Since we've got so much of this natural pigment in our system, that makes it much more difficult for us to synthesize this nutrient via the sun. As a result, we're at a higher risk for having a weaker immune system, fragile bones, extreme fatigue, back pain, hair loss, muscular discomfort and even depression-related symptoms.

That's not all, though. As more and more studies are coming out about COVID-19, what researchers have also discovered is a part of the reason why Blacks may be more susceptible to being diagnosed with a more severe case of the virus is also due to a lack of Vitamin D in our bodies. This is partly due to the fact that something else that Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to is respiratory infections. So, what a lot of medical professionals are recommending, is that we up our Vitamin D intake.

To me, both of these reasons are valid enough to offer up a few tips on ways that you can get more Vitamin D into your own body. Are you ready to do just that?

Step into the Sun

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The most natural and probably easiest way to get more Vitamin D is to spend more time in the sun. Just how much? Well, folks with less melanin are advised to be outside in the midday sun for 10-30 minutes, a few times a week. Those with melanin? 30-45 minutes is beneficial.

Aside from the fact that it can get Vitamin D into your body, natural sunlight is also able to help to reduce your stress levels, strengthen your immunity and even help you to lose weight. Interesting, right?

Use Natural Light Throughout the Day

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If your schedule makes it difficult for you to take a break in the middle of the day or to eat lunch outdoors a few times a week, definitely consider opening up your window treatments so that the sun can shine through your windowpanes. It's another relatively easy way to get some Vitamin D. Plus, going with natural light instead of overhead lighting can significantly reduce your monthly energy bill in the process. A win all the way around.

3. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

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If you're a supplement taker, you can always add Vitamin D to your list. How much is going to make a real difference in the quality of your health? Well, a lot of medical professionals recommend that you take a pill or capsule that offers you around 600 units per serving on a daily basis. Something that I personally do is take a vitamin that contains calcium, magnesium and zinc (it's a great nerve relaxer and sleep inducer) that has Vitamin D3 (a form of Vitamin D that makes it easier for the body to absorb calcium and magnesium) in it.

4. Consume Some Cod Liver Oil

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Listen, I don't know if grandma knew about all of this Vitamin D info or not but some of us remember growing up and having to swallow a teaspoon of cod liver oil (which literally comes from the liver of codfishes).

It was nasty, for sure. Still, what's a trip about it is cod liver oil's an oil that is good for you on a few levels. It helps to decrease inflammation levels in the body; strengthen immunity; lower blood pressure; help to prevent plaque build-up around your arteries; improve vision; elevate brain function; reduce anxiety levels; fight upper respiratory illness; maintain bone density and yes, give you a good fill of Vitamin D.

If you do decide to go this route, just make sure to consult your doctor before taking it if you are pregnant and that you avoid combining it with fish oil, if that is already a part of your daily regimen. The reason why is because, while cod liver oil is good for you, it can be rather potent. Besides, too much of a good thing can sometimes bring about side effects (in this particular case, nosebleeds and heartburn) that you wouldn't expect. By the way, the best place to find cod liver oil is at your favorite local health store or website.

5. Eat Foods That Are High in Vitamin D

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Another way to get more Vitamin D into your body is to eat foods that are high in it. Some of those include fish (like tuna, salmon and sardines), shiitake mushrooms, egg yolks, yogurt, almond milk, orange juice, fortified cereals, oatmeal, beef and cheese.

6. Buy a UV Lamp

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Something else that can help to boost your Vitamin D are UV lamps. UV stands for ultraviolet and what they do is imitate the sun and how it affects your system. Why would you want to go this route instead of just going outside? Well, a lot of it has to do with your location. If you happen to live in a climate where the sun isn't out as much, a UV lamp can be a pretty awesome alternative.Medical News Today has a list of five different UV lamps that you might want to check out, if you're interested in getting one.

7. See Your Doctor

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This last tip could certainly be the first too. If either you want to be absolutely sure that your Vitamin D levels are good or, after trying all of these things, you're still experiencing some of the symptoms that I discussed at the top of the piece, you can always take what is known as a Vitamin D status test. It's a type of blood test that checks for your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. If they happen to be below a certain standard, it could mean that you are deficient or even that you've got an underlying health issue like kidney or liver disease. Yes, that can sound semi-frightening at the mere thought of the possibility, yet you won't know until you know…so go. Because the sooner you know how much Vitamin D you need, the sooner you can get to feeling strong and better. Especially while COVID-19 is still around.

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Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

It was certainly an apt quote to use for the tragic situation surrounding the life and death of Taylor. Quickly, however, a cynicism began to take hold of me as I saw people with questionable politics around Black women repost Malcolm’s words.

Malcolm delivered those words to a congregation of Black people in Los Angeles, California just days after his birthday on May 22, 1965. Using his signature authoritative oratorical skills, he declared the harm that this world has caused Black women. In this same speech, he would go on to say: “Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?" Hating and harming Black women is akin to hating and harming yourself.

For Malcolm, to protect Black women, to respect and love Black women was not a hypothetical position to take. Just a few years prior to giving that speech, Malcolm severed ties with his mentor Elijah Muhammad after allegations against the Nation of Islam leader of having affairs with underaged girls were revealed, an allegation that Malcolm didn’t initially want to believe until speaking directly with one of the accusers himself.

He showed us that to show up for Black women means holding the abusers within your community accountable — even the ones you admire. It means listening to Black women but also taking principled action in response to what you’ve heard–even at the risk of your relationships and even your life.

The name and legacy of Malcolm X conjure strong feelings in many people. To some people, Malcolm was a militant hellbent on stirring racial unrest. To others, he was a messianic figure, who sacrificed himself for the good of the people. But this is how I choose to remember him: as someone whose love for Black women anchored his life. To honor Malcolm means to honor Black women, today, tomorrow, and always.

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