POSTED: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 8:39am
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 7:33am
MCALLEN - Ninfa Perez is getting her Vitamin D levels checked.
"I had been hearing all about the Vitamin D deficiency and the side effects, so I got tested I would say maybe two years ago, and I was just told it was deficient," said Ninfa Perez, Hispanic Patient.
Perez had a low level, but this wasn't surprising to Dr. Roberto Mangoo-Karim who's been a kidney doctor for the last 16 years. In fact, by just hearing her name, Mangoo could have probably guessed where her Vitamin D level would be.
"When patients came to see us and they had a last name that was European decent, Caucasian, Williams, Smith and Jones. The Vitamin D level tended to be either normal or slightly low. When we started seeing the Hispanic population, which is highly prevalent in the Valley, then the Vitamin D level was significantly lower than those with Caucasian decent," said Dr. Roberto Mangoo-Karim, Nephrology.
After putting together a study, Dr. Mangoo showed that 90 percent of Hispanics were Vitamin D deficient compared to 50 percent of Caucasians. This made Mangoo realize Vitamin D levels may be a genetic issue.
On average, a person's Vitamin D level should be right around 30 to 100. In this study, the Caucasian population was found to have levels on average of 27. The Hispanic population was much lower, they were coming in on average at 18.
At first thought, the conclusion seemed to be people with darker skin were more Vitamin D deficient. But that actually is not the case, because when given a Vitamin D supplement to offset the deficiency each ethnic group reacted differently.
"So Vitamin D deficiency is genetically passed to us through our genes in Hispanics, and is more and more relevant, than those who are Caucasian," said Dr. Mangoo.
But does a lack of Vitamin D really affect us? The answer is yes!
"Specifically, now that we have recognized that people who have Vitamin D deficiency overall have a higher instances with many diseases, specifically cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune diseases," said Dr. Mangoo.
And while these are big diseases that Vitamin D may affect, most patients are seeing results on a smaller scale.
"My hair is not falling out anymore, my nails are a little stronger. Yes, those are the things and for sure the hair, because those are the things you see everyday," said Perez.
To learn about your levels, ask a primary care doctor for a Vitamin D test.