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According to recent testing, people with darker skin may have an increased risk of stroke and heart disease due to the inherent difficulty of producing vitamin D, which is created through exposure to the sun.
"People with dark skin who live at higher latitudes, where the intensity of sunlight is less, may be at greater risk," said Dr Kevin Fiscella, co-author of the new research, according to Health Day News.
In the study, researchers at the University of California, Davis found that adults who had a vitamin D deficiency had a 40 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death.
When looking at African Americans, researchers found a 38 percent higher incidence of death compared to whites. The majority of that difference was related to low levels of vitamin D, according to the news source.
"We know that people with darker skin have lower vitamin-D levels," Fiscella said to TheHeart.org. "And we know that African Americans have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than the white population."
"In our study, just two factors - poverty and low vitamin-D levels - seemed to explain the higher risk of cardiovascular mortality in the black population," he added.
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