Vitamin D benefits have been linked with cancer prevention for years now, and the data keeps coming in. A recent study of pooled data has concluded that a vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL or higher is associated with significantly lowered risk of cancer.
Invasive cancers are far less likely to strike when the vitamin D level is optimal. This analysis of studies related to vitamin D benefits and effects was published in PLOS ONE in April 2016.
The evidence is clear: Does your doctor understand the proper vitamin D level needed for cancer prevention?
Researchers from UC San Diego led by Robert P. Heaney combined data from Grassroots Health, a study of 1,135 women, and a Lappe study, which included 1,169 women. Grassroots Health subjects had a median vitamin D level of 48 ng/mL, and Lappe subjects a median of 30 ng/mL vitamin D levels.
It was determined that a vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL or higher resulted in a 67 percent lower risk of cancer compared with vitamin D levels of 20 ng/mL or less. However, a vitamin D level of just 20 ng/mL has been recommended as ideal – since 2010 – by the Institute of Medicine.
Is fear of the sun justified for most people?
The 20 ng/mL vitamin D level is also recommended by the IOM for bone health, but it may not be sufficient for cancer prevention and protection. The study results show that nearly double is required to assist with cancer prevention.
Yet, most conventional outlets for ‘health’ information advise that people avoid sun exposure – which is the best way to trigger vitamin D production in the body. In fact, most people would be surprised to learn, higher levels of sun exposure throughout life have been linked with up to a 70 percent lower risk of breast cancer. In addition to fighting cancer, vitamin D helps to protect us from infections, the common cold, flu, osteoporosis, and assists calcium uptake to improve bone health.
Vitamin D does incredible things for the immune system
Colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and numerous other deadly forms of cancer are reduced 30 to 50 percent when vitamin D status is improved. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke by around 50 percent.
Vitamin D powers and modulates the immune system, so it is crucial in fighting infections and avoiding autoimmune diseases. Other issues associated with a vitamin D deficiency include pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, asthma, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
In fact, vitamin D deficiency is a major problem in the U.S. This has been caused, in large part, to the overuse of sunscreen and public labeling of the sun as cancer-causing.
Sunlight, the right foods and vitamin D supplementation help to ensure you get enough vitamin D
While prolonged sun overexposure can lead to skin cancer, the sun is crucial in vitamin D production in the body. However, a little goes a long way; just a few minutes of sun exposure per day on unexposed skin can help to create ideal vitamin D levels. Of course, for those living in the northern hemisphere (far away from the equator) – a lack of direct sunlight makes it more difficult to get enough sun exposure to generate vitamin D production in the body.