Since the pandemic began, people of color have been dying at higher rates than those with lighter skin tones. Black, Indigenous and Latino Americans all have a COVID-19 death rate of triple or more that of White Americans.
This has been explained away by pointing out that people of color are more likely in retail jobs which expose them to the general public, and that partly explains what’s happening.
People of color on average also suffer more from poverty and racism, and the stress from either impacts the ability of the immune system to adequately protect one from disease. Meditation helps to ease the effect of stress on the immune system, and as a long time meditation teacher, I highly recommend it.
But there is another problem, in that skin is darker because of melanin, which acts as a defense against intense sunlight such as that of equatorial Africa, the motherland of our species. Such a defense does not allow as much sunlight into the body as lighter skin tones allow.
Unfortunately, in latitudes away from the equator, such as most of the USA, dark skin restricts the ability of the body to make vitamin D. Vitamin D, actually a hormone, not a vitamin, enhances the ability of the immune system to do its job. A deficiency leaves a person defenseless against disease such as covid-19, common colds and flu among others.
The deficiency of vitamin D explains why people catch more colds and flu in winter, when they aren’t getting sunshine. Also, in defense of sunshine, the largest scientific studies agree that those who get the most common diseases are those who get the least sunlight.
A person of color must be exposed longer to summer sun in order to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a light-skinned person (one should not get sunburned—that’s too much).
I have an old friend who was a NASA scientist when I met him several decades ago, and since his retirement has devoted much of his time to the study of sunlight. When I told him I took 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily in winter, he suggested I cut down to 4,000 IUs, as at 5,000 a man produces extra testosterone, an abnormal thing.
I recommend that everyone who doesn’t live in the subtropics (for Americans Southern Florida, Hawaii) daily take 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 in winter, and that those who are not getting adequate sunshine continue it around the year.
I mentioned my taking 4,000 IUs to show I am not recommending an abnormal amount in suggesting 2,000 IUs. In fact, in summer sun, a light skinned person can get 10,000 IUs of vitamin D from a mere 10 minutes of exposure.
Some people have reasons to not go out in the sun, so should take vitamin D supplements year-round. For example, I have an African American friend who gets vitiligo (large white patches on the skin) when she gets exposed to the sun, so prefers to stay indoors.
Dark-skinned people are not necessarily “African American.” Most people called African American could more accurately be described as “European American,” since they have more European than African ancestry. Many Southern Indians are as dark-skinned as the darkest-skinned Africans, and are categorized as “Caucasian,” so this labeling gets to be nebulous and inaccurate.
Right now (Autumn, 2020), the darkest-skinned people are on average more deficient in vitamin D than others unless they have been in the sun considerably during the summer. Even light-skinned people will soon be deficient if they are not taking supplements, as the angle of the sun in late autumn to early spring is such that in most of the USA one cannot get adequate sunshine to produce vitamin D for the immune system’s needs.
I recommend sunshine first when one can get it. I walk barefoot in shorts during the summer to get as much skin exposed as I can, and I do not take vitamin D supplements in Summer. If you question what I’ve stated in this article you can easily get your doctor to test you or buy a home vitamin D test kit. I would expect that more than 90% of my readers are severely deficient and thereby have a deficient immune system which leaves them more vulnerable to covid-19.
I am particularly concerned about people of color, who are dying of COVID at triple the level of white people. I am convinced that supplementing vitamin D3 can reduce the numbers of severe cases. Your life may depend on your vitamin D levels.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.