Lupus and vitamin D in Women of Color. Why and what to do-
“Ask Dr. T!” question of the week
Vitamin D in women of color with lupus is an important problem. Women of color tend to have lower vitamin D levels, and this can be associated with worse lupus disease activity.
Lupus and Vitamin D in Women of Color is a Big Problem for Many Reasons:
Here’s this weeks question:
I am a black woman with lupus and am constantly dealing with low vitamin d levels. Are low levels of d common in people of color? And can having low levels be making my lupus worse?
Dr. Donald Thomas replies:
I LOVE this question because it is so important.
Vitamin D is essential for the immune system to work properly. White blood cells have receptors (attachments) on their surfaces that bind to the active forms of vitamin D that float around in our bodies. This vitamin D attachment is vital for the immune system to work properly. When vitamin D levels are low, the immune system works abnormally, increasing inflammation and lupus disease activity. Correcting vitamin D levels can reverse this problem and it is so easy and safe to do.
Lupus vitamin D deficiency symptoms? Low levels of vitamin D can be associated with fatigue and body aches. Of course, when it causes lupus to become more active, it can lead to the butterfly rash, pleurisy, and other problems. Dr. Michelle Petri even showed that correcting low vitamin D can reduce flares and reduce proteinuria!
Several studies now show that if we keep the level at 40ng/mL and higher (but not higher than 80), lupus disease activity is better. Lupus flares are associated with low vitamin D levels. People of color have lower vitamin D levels because the melanin (pigment) of the skin decreases ultraviolet light from entering the skin deep enough to help the body produce vitamin D. So, this is a common problem.
However, it is incredibly easy to treat! Everyone’s body is different, and the required dose varies a lot from person to person.
Taking vitamin D regularly and using sunscreen religiously every day are two of the safest drugs used to help treat lupus. I always include them in my patients’ medication lists.
The mission of the More Than Lupus Foundation is to provide programs and support for those living with lupus, advocate for their needs, and collaborate with other government and lupus organizations to strive toward improving quality of life, and ultimately finding a cure.
AuthorDon Thomas, MD author of “The Lupus Encyclopedia” and “The Lupus Secrets”