Vitamin D is a promising anticancer supplement

Vitamin D is a promising anticancer supplement

Do you know that 1 out of 3 people are predicted to get cancer in their lifetime?  I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, so I will also relay the good news:  research indicates that cancer can possibly be prevented and healed.  One promising anticancer supplement being studied extensively is Vitamin D.

A friend from college and I were chatting over lunch.  She has a genetically high risk of cancer and her husband is a cancer survivor.  Since they live together in the often-overcast state of Washington, I assumed that she would have been medically advised to supplement with Vitamin D.  To my surprise, their doctors had not pointed out the correlation between cancer and Vitamin D.  Therefore, I decided to blog about it to spread the word.

What is Vitamin D?

While we call it a Vitamin, when made by the body, Vitamin D is a hormone.

Vitamin D helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make bones and teeth strong. Lack of vitamin D can cause brittleness of the bones called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

In addition to it’s association with bone health, did you know that Vitamin D also helps to regulate the immune system, lower blood pressure, protect against depression, and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes? A 2014 study from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine found that people with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to die prematurely.  Additionally, adequate Vitamin D levels have been shown to both prevent cancer and improve survival rates for those who get cancer.

Where should you get your Vitamin D?

The best natural sources of Vitamin D are:

Wild-caught fish (425 IU in 3 oz salmon, 547 IU in 3 oz mackerel)
Beef Liver (53 IUs in 4 oz)
Egg Yolks (41 IUs per egg)
Canned Tuna (154 IUs in 3 oz)
Canned Sardines (270 IUs in 3.5 oz)
Shiitake Mushrooms (40 IUs in a cup)

As you can see, few foods are naturally good sources of Vitamin D.  For this reason, milk and breakfast cereals are often fortified with Vitamin D.

Milk (100 IUs in 8 oz)
Yogurt (80-100 IUs in 6 oz)
Almond Milk (100 IUs in 8 oz)
Orange Juice (137 IUs in 1 Cup)
Breakfast Cereals (50-100 IUs in 1 Cup)
Oatmeal (150 IUs in 1 packet)

Sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D

The skin, when exposed to sunlight, produces vitamin D from cholesterol.  That’s why Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as “The Sunshine Vitamin”.

Under optimal conditions, just 10 minutes of sunshine per day can give you 10,000 IU per day.  Most experts agree that sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D.  Your body will not create more Vitamin D than you need from sunlight.  Most experts recommend you get between 5 and 30 minutes of unprotected time in the sun every day.  However, for many of us, this isn’t enough.

Conditions that Limit the amount of Vitamin D you get from the sun:

  • your age:  a 70 year-old makes about 75% less D3 than a 20-year-old.
  • your BMI:  obese people test about 50% lower for Vitamin D levels in their blood than non-obese people (kind of creates a chicken-egg type conundrum, don’t you think?)
  • skin tone:  a person with dark skin requires about 4 times as much time in the sun as a fair skin person to produce the same amount of D3
  • distance from the equator:  if you live above 37 degrees north of the equator (in the U.S., that’s north of Washington, D.C. or the Utah/Arizona border), you probably aren’t getting enough UVB exposure year-round
  • time of year:  obviously, we get less direct sunlight in the winter months
  • weather:  clouds or smog can block as much as 60% of D3 producing UV rays
  • sunscreen:  while sunscreen protects against one of the deadliest forms of cancer, melanoma, its use might be contributing to Vitamin D-defficiency-related cancers and other causes of death.  Sunscreen with an SPF of 8 blocks Vitamin D production by 95%.  SPF of 15 or more blocks vitamin D production by 99%.  Many governments are beginning to lay off of the sun-protection public service announcements and are now encouraging people to get SOME unprotected time in the sun.
  • prescription medications:  steroid drugs, some weight loss drugs, some cholesterol-lowering drugs, seizure drugs, and tuberculosis drugs can all affect vitamin D absorption and/or metabolism.

I couldn’t word it any better than chemo-free cancer survivor, Christopher Wark did in his blog:  “Basically you need an advanced degree in calculus to figure out how much vitamin D3 you can actually get from sunshine. This is why I take it in supplement form.

VITAMIN D Supplements

For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement.  However, you probably won’t get enough from your multivitamin.  Most multivitamins contain around 400 IU, which is too low, therefore, you should check your multivitamin.  (If you’re not taking a multi yet, read this).  Some manufacturers have begun adding 800 or 1,000 IU of vitamin D to their standard multivitamin preparations. If the multivitamin you take does not have 1,000 IU of vitamin D, you may want to consider adding a separate vitamin D supplement, especially if you don’t spend much time in the sun.

Two forms of vitamin D are used in supplements: vitamin D2 (also known a pre-vitamin D) and vitamin D3, which is chemically indistinguishable from the form of vitamin D produced in the body.

While there is still debate about what level of supplementation is optimal, most experts now recommend supplementing.  Check with your doctor, have your levels tested, and supplement if you are deficient.  Vitamin D supplementation is also strongly recommended in certain populations including cancer patients.

After all of my research, I now take this supplement 1x-2x/week (in addition to my multi-vitamin regime) to ensure adequate Vitamin D levels:

 

To Buy:  15.95, amazon.com

 

 

How Vitamin D Deficiency is linked to cancer?

Researchers first started to consider the Vitamin D – Cancer link when they realized that people have higher incidence of certain cancers the further they live from the equator.  There is now solid evidence that higher Vitamin D levels could help prevent and treat as many as 17 different kinds of cancer.

landmark study conducted in 2016 in PLOS ONE found that women over 55 with blood concentrations of vitamin D higher than 40ng/ml had a 67% lower risk of cancer compared to women who had levels lower than 20 ng/ml.

How does Vitamin D protect against tumor growth?

Adequate amounts of vitamin D have been shown to prevent all types of invasive cancer.  Tumor growth is slowed due to the fact that metabolism of vitamin D increases the communication among cells.

How much Vitamin D does one need to protect against cancer?

The researchers concluded that most cancers occur in people with vitamin D blood levels between 10 and 40ng/ml.  Optimal levels for cancer prevention are said to be between 40 and 60ng/ml.  However, A 2005 study found that women with blood concentrations of vitamin D higher than 60ng/ml had an 83% reduction in breast cancer compared with those lower than 20ng/ml. For this, among its many other benefits, many holistic doctors and experts recommend that cancer patients shoot for the 60-80 ng/ml range.  Keep in mind, though, that more is not better.  Levels that are consistently over 200 ng/ml have the potential to be toxic.

The Institute of Medicine has set the RDA of Vitamin D at 600 IU/day.  That amount is set based on the MINIMUM required to prevent bone brittleness, not on the amount recommended for optimum health. The Upper RDA is 4,000 IU/day for adults. Many scientists and physicians are advising 2,000 IU/day for those with low blood levels.

People rarely intake too much Vitamin D.  You have to remember, though, that excess of anything, including vitamin D is not good for human health. Most noteworthy, when you get too much vitamin D inside the body, it can bring up the level of calcium inside the body.  Increased calcium levels cause the accumulation of calcium salts in the soft tissues.

Because there is still so much inconsistent data regarding what to take and how much to take, I advise you to research on your own.  Here are a few of the articles I read in researching Vitamin D as a promising anticancer supplement.

Probably the best-written articles on the subject:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/vitamin-d-the-1-anti-cancer-vitamin/

Further Reading:

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/vitamin-d-fact-sheet

https://www.cancercenter.com/community/newsletter/july-2013/vitamin-d-and-cancer/

http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/low_vit_d

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2006/3/report_vitamind/Page-01

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/vitamin-d

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/uoc–hlo040616.php

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2008/06/23/time-in-the-sun-how-much-is-needed-for-vitamin-d

https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/the-truth-about-vitamin-d

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19523595

Marcy Vogler is a lifestyle makeover coach, personal trainer, and mother of three.  Marcy is passionate about helping women make over their lives from the inside out.  To learn more about the courses Marcy offers, check out our parter website at www.thegoodlife4u.club.  For daily inspiration, join Marcy’s Facebook Group:  Love Your Day, Love Your Life.

         

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