Inadequate Sun Exposure Threatens Health, Especially for Non-Whites

Most non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, putting them at risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.  Lack of exposure to the sun is a big part of the problem.  As I noted earlier, 50,000 to 60,000 people of all races die every year in the United States every year as a result of inadequate exposure to the sun.

Why do so many non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? While milk is Vitamin D enriched, many non-whites are lactose intolerant, and few other foods than milk contain much of the vitamin. 

Sunlight is the most potent source of Vitamin D.  But in northern regions like Canada, sunlight alone does not provide enough Vitamin D for many people who work indoors. There,  the sunlight is too feeble in autumn and winter for people’s bodies to turn sunlight into Vitamin D. 

To get enough Vitamin D from the sun, people have to go outside a lot during spring and summer to offset the weak sunlight in fall and winter. But increasingly sedentary lifestyles and office jobs have reduced outdoor activity. And cold temperatures in spring discourage warmth-loving people from going outside, even when the light is strong enough to produce Vitamin D.

For whites, it is easier to obtain enough Vitamin D through sunlight alone, since less light is blocked by the melanin in their skin. But even many whites have Vitamin D deficiencies, owing to their failure either to consume enough Vitamin D-fortified foods like milk, or to exercise outdoors. Some have overreacted to the risk of skin cancer by avoiding even modest amounts of sun that would trigger Vitamin D production.