Aboriginal Australians at risk of bone, muscle pain

Feb 07, 2011
Aboriginal Australians are at risk of health problems due to vitamin D insufficiency. Photo by Gary Radler.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Aboriginal Australians are at risk of increased bone and muscle pain due to their inability to produce sufficient vitamin D, according to a University of Adelaide study published in the Medical Journal of Australia today.

Health researcher Dr Simon Vanlint says a study of 58 Aboriginal adults in South Australia showed significantly lower vitamin D serum levels compared to paler-skinned individuals, leading to a greater chance of them developing bone, muscle and other conditions.

Dr Vanlint, from the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Adelaide, says because the brown melanin filters ultraviolet B light, darker-skinned individuals synthesise less vitamin D, resulting in a range of problems.

"Vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent in this population of adult Aboriginal Australians, with low levels found in all seasons other than summer," he says.

"This has also been shown in African-Americans, Pacific Islander and Maori people and Indigenous Canadians."

Dr Vanlint says the seasonal variation in vitamin D levels among the study group suggests that ultraviolet light - the best natural source of vitamin D - plays the major role in maintaining vitamin D levels.

"It is likely that time spent outdoors, particularly if it includes weight-bearing exercise, will have health benefits in addition to those associated with increased vitamin D production."

The study group comprised 40 women and 18 men from community-controlled health centres in Adelaide and Yalata in South Australia.

Vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones, muscles and teeth. can increase a person's risk of bone and , rickets (in children) and osteoporosis.

Recent studies have also suggested links between a lack of vitamin D and a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, , skin disorders and some auto-immune diseases.

"If appropriate sunlight exposure is not sufficient or not possible, vitamin D is very safe to give as a supplement, and is not expensive," Dr Vanlint says.

"Given that vitamin D is very simple to provide as a supplement, it is possible that there could be significant health benefits for this section of our population."

Explore further: Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

More information: www.mja.com.au/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vitamin D tied to muscle power in adolescent girls

Feb 03, 2009

Vitamin D is significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Vitamin D deficiency linked to lung transplant rejection

Oct 18, 2010

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a significant increase in lung transplant rejection, according to research conducted at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). These data were presented Monday at The American Society ...

Recommended for you

Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—There has been a recent increase in the rate of testosterone testing, with more testing seen in men with comorbidities associated with hypogonadism, according to research published online Nov. ...

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.