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Vitamin D deficiency linked to anemia in African Americans

Posted on: May 4, 2015   by  Vitamin D Council


A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D deficiency increased the odds of anemia in African Americans.

More than three million people in the United States have anemia. Anemia is a condition in which a person does not have enough red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to their tissues. Anemia often results in a person feeling tired and weak.

Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folate and B12, have been suggested as causes of anemia. However, relatively little is known regarding the relationship between vitamin D and anemia.

Dr. John Cannell presented data on the oxygen carrying capacity of athletes from the mid-1950s. The data showed that the blood’s ability to carry oxygen peaks in late summer, proposing that UVB exposure is possitively associated with red blood cell count.

In a recent study, researchers analyzed data from generally healthy adults in Atlanta, Georgia. They compared the incidence of anemia in those who were considered vitamin D deficient (levels less than 20 ng/ml) to those who were vitamin D sufficient (levels greater than or equal to 20 ng/ml). The researchers found that vitamin D deficient participants had 2.64 times the odds of anemia compared to those who were vitamin D sufficient.

The researchers also found that there was a significant modification by race. African Americans who were considered vitamin D deficient had 6.42 times the odds of having anemia compared to vitamin D sufficient African Americans, when controlling for potential confounders.

They furthered their analysis by categorizing by subtypes of anemia. The researchers found that vitamin D deficient African Americans had 8.42 times the likelihood of becoming anemic with inflammation compared to African Americans who were vitamin D sufficient.


Smith E., et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with anaemia among African Americans in a US cohort. British Journal of Nutrition, 2015.

1 Response to Vitamin D deficiency linked to anemia in African Americans

  1. rcbaker200@comcast.net

    This study compared those with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 20 ng with those above 20 ng. So as large as the differences are, it would have been greater if they had a group of subjects with levels over 32 ng.
    Robert Baker MD

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