Healing Support for Cancer: Vitamin D
You’re probably not surprised that Vitamin D is included in this list of anti-cancer nutrients. After all, both alternative and conventional health circles have been touting its benefits for the past few years. Well, let’s just say that I’m on that bandwagon.
Rather than reiterate the plethora of positives associated with optimal blood levels of Vitamin D, I’m going to point you in the direction of a couple previous posts of mine on the subject – “Let the Sunshine In” and “Freaked Out by Flu Season? Take Control with Vitamin D3”. These should provide you with basic knowledge as to what makes Vitamin D so powerful. In the meantime though, let’s skip ahead to what Vitamin D3 means to cancer.
Most of the research you’ll find talks about Vitamin D as a cancer preventative, and rightly so, but it also seems to have a few actions beneficial to those already diagnosed with cancer. For instance, it promotes cell differentiation (the maturation and specialization of a cell – something that a cancer cell does not do), inhibits the creation of blood vessels supplying a tumor, and regulates cell division. In order to take advantage of the potential power of Vitamin D, it’s recommended that you maintain blood levels in the range of 50-80 ng/ml. This is very important, as Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer in over 200 epidemiological studies and 2,500 laboratory studies.
So what’s the best way to assure that your D3 level is optimal? First, request a Vitamin D blood test (referred to as a 25(OH)D blood test) from your physician. If your level is below 50 ng/ml, then consider taking supplemental D3 (Vitamin D3, as opposed to Vitamin D2, is thought to be better absorbed with greater cancer-inhibiting properties and is therefore the preferable form). Ideally we would receive most of our D3 from sun exposure, however it is difficult to maintain healthy blood levels year-round by sun alone in the United States. In the mid- to northern states, the sun is simply too far away during the winter months to trigger the manufacture of this D3 by our skin. That said, it is estimated that moderate sun exposure without sunscreen (about 30 minutes of mid-day sun in non-winter months) is enough to stimulate vitamin D production but not enough to damage the skin and could potentially prevent 30,000 cancer deaths in the United States each year (Ainsleigh 1993). Studies have determined that the greater hours of year-round sunlight to which one is exposed, the lower the rate of breast and intestinal cancer in the United States.
And what about getting enough Vitamin D from dietary sources? Unfortunately this is also quite difficult. Some D can be found in egg yolks, organ meats, butter, cod liver oil, and fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, but we typically don’t eat enough of this stuff to make a dent in our needs. Vitamin D also has been added to many dairy products, but this is mostly in its less-absorbed form – Vitamin D2.
So the bottom line is that, in the case of Vitamin D3, supplementation may be the best way to go to reach optimal levels. There are capsules and liquid forms available with doses in IU’s ranging from the low hundreds to upwards of 5000 per capsule. Be sure to get your blood levels checked first though, so you know for sure that you are deficient and you can determine the appropriate dosage. And to increase its absorption and get the most bang for your buck with this vitamin, take Vitamin D3 with food and consider adding Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, choline and Vitamin K2 to your regimen simultaneously. Remember, reaching that optimal blood level of 50-80 ng/ml will allow you to take advantage of Vitamin D’s many health benefits whether you are currently in a state of disease or focused on preventing it.
References and Studies
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