As you know, Blacks die about seven years younger than Whites, mainly due to cardiovascular disease. In fact, if so many African Americans did not die in their 50s and early 60s from heart attacks and strokes, social security would be in more trouble than it is. As it is, some of these men and women pay into social security but don’t live long enough to collect it.
Researchers from the University of Alabama, led by Dr. Jessica Alvarez, wanted to know why. They measured functions of healthy arteries, like arterial stiffness (remember, healthy arteries are like long balloons, not copper pipes) as well as functions of the health of the inside of the arteries (endothelial function) on 23 African Americans and 22 Whites; the average age was 29.
Alvarez JA, Gower BA, Calhoun DA, Judd SE, Dong Y, Dudenbostel T, Scholl J, Ashraf AP. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Ethnic Differences in Arterial Stiffness and Endothelial Function. J Clin Med Res. 2012 Jun;4(3):197-205. Epub 2012 May 15.
Sure enough they found significant difference in the health of the arteries between the two groups, regardless of age or body fat. African Americans were much more likely to be vitamin D deficient (82%), compared to only 18% of Whites. They found large differences in the health of the two group’s arteries, even at the tender age of 29, indicating African Americans are on their way to poor cardiovascular health at a relatively young age.
Aix75, a measure of elasticity, is predictive for coronary artery disease. It was 20 times higher in African Americans than in whites before corrections (10 vs. 0.5). Other measurement of elasticity and endothelial function were worse in Blacks than Whites, despite the tender average age of 29 of the participants.
The authors concluded that, “Circulating 25(OH)D was associated with various relatively novel indicators of vascular function, including arterial stiffness and endothelial (inside the artery) function. Efforts to improve vitamin D status may be particularly relevant in African Americans, as the relationships appeared to be stronger in this ethnic group compared to European Americans.”