Aboriginal Australians at risk of bone, muscle pain

February 7, 2011, University of Adelaide
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."

More information: www.mja.com.au/

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

February 20, 2018
New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.

Tobacco kills, no matter how it's smoked: study

February 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Smokers who think cigars or pipes are somehow safer than cigarettes may want to think again, new research indicates.

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

February 19, 2018
Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are not associated with risk of heart attacks

February 16, 2018
New research from the University of Southampton has found no association between the use of calcium or vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

February 16, 2018
Women who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research published ...

Study shows options to decrease risk of motor vehicle crashes for adolescent drivers

February 16, 2018
Adolescents who receive comprehensive and challenging on-road driving assessments prior to taking the license test might be protected from future motor vehicle crashes, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study ...

0 comments

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.