The sunshine vitamin seems to get a lot of attention, and with good reason. Vitamin D offers an array of health benefits—from reducing asthma symptoms to helping the body fight viral infections like the common flu. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says vitamin D can even reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, and at quite a significant rate.
From 120 women who had breast cancer and an equal number of controls, the researchers found those with the lowest vitamin D levels (less than 10ng/ml) had 6 times the risk of evasive breast cancer when compared to those with the highest levels of vitamin D (more than 20 ng/ml).
The researchers say women in Saudi Arabia may be more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency for a variety of reasons including: modern indoor lifestyles, darker skin tones, more modest styles of dress, and unfortified foods.
These results are not surprising” says Dr. Cedric Garland, of the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. “There are numerous studies supporting that women need vitamin D levels exceeding the Institute of Medicine (IOM) guideline of 50 nmol/L (20 ng/ml) to help prevent breast cancer.”
In a press release, Dr. Garland cites another study that found raising a woman’s vitamin D levels to 40-60 ng/ml would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and three-fourths of deaths from these cancers in the U.S. and Canada.
“These results are not surprising” says Dr. Cedric Garland, “There are numerous studies supporting that women need vitamin D levels exceeding the Institute of Medicine (IOM) guideline of 50 nmol/L (20 ng/ml) to help prevent breast cancer.”
“We need help and support from the medical community especially family doctors to communicate this to their patients and put the vitamin D breast cancer prevention opportunity into daily practice to save lives”
“Optimal levels of vitamin D have the potential to drastically reduce breast cancer cases in Canada and the USA” said Perry Holman, Executive Director for the Vitamin D Society. “The Vitamin D Society recommend that people have their 25(OH)D level tested either through their family doctor or by purchasing a home test kit through health suppliers such as GrassrootsHealth. If your vitamin D test score is low, below 100 nmol/L Canada or 40 ng/ml USA, take immediate action to increase your vitamin D intake.”
Dr. John Cannell from the Vitamin D Council recommends sunlight, sunbed or D3 supplementation to increase your vitamin D blood levels.
The Scientists Call to D*action, a document published by a group of prominent vitamin D doctors, researchers and scientists, recommend that people achieve optimal vitamin D blood serum levels of between 100-150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA) for best overall health and disease prevention(3). Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk for many serious diseases including bone disease, various cancers, infections, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
There are few foods that contain any significant amount of vitamin D. Those few foods include: sardines, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, beef liver, and salmon. Most of our vitamin D comes from exposing the skin to sunlight, which can be tricky in colder months. While many foods in the U.S. are fortified with vitamin D, these foods are often highly processed cereal grains.
Keeping vitamin D levels high must be a concentrated effort, with real attention paid to the risks and benefits of your D sources. If you live in the northern part of the US or Canada it is necessary to supplement with vitamin D during the winter months. Check out these vitamin D products to boost your levels.
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