A recent study published in JAMA Network Open medical journal has shown that taking vitamin D supplements may cut the risk of contracting advanced cancer by more than a third. The research found that taking Vitamin D pills is overall linked to a 17 percent risk reduction whereas for those that took the vitamin plus maintained a healthy body weight the risk of succumbing to advanced cancer plummeted by 38 percent.
‘These findings suggest that vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing advanced cancers,’ said corresponding author of the study, Paulette Chandler, an epidemiologist and a primary care physician in the Brighams Division of Preventative Medicine.
Significantly it was also found that no reduction in risk was noted for those participants who were overweight or obese conveying that body mass crucially influences the capabilities of vitamin D in lowering a persons likelihood of developing advanced cancer.
Other studies have also confirmed that a good level of Vitamin D is beneficial both in cancer prevention and in the prognosis of several cancers. The article jointly written by Professor Alberto Munoz, from the University of Madrid and Professor Carsten Carlberg from the University of Eastern Finland state that the effect of Vitamin D is especially profound in protecting against colorectal cancer and blood cancers. Additionally high Vitamin D responsiveness is overall beneficial in lowering all cancer risks. The review reiterates that a good vitamin D status is beneficial in lowering the risk of cancer and is a beneficial preventative.
How much Vitamin D do we need?
It is not easy to attain all the Vitamin D that is necessary to reap the health benefits it brings. Limited sun exposure, lifestyle and age can also contribute to low vitamin D levels. Recommended foods which are naturally rich in Vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, fish liver oils, cheese, eggs, butter, milk plus Vitamin D fortified food products including orange juice and cereal.
The average amount of Vitamin D that a person gets from food and drink is generally well below the recommended average. As too much sun, which also provides the body with Vitamin D has its own risks and the fact that in some countries sun exposure due to colder climates is limited it is generally advisable to take a daily vitamin D supplement to ensure that the Vitamin D status in the body is kept to an optimal level to fend of cancer and to provide the additional health benefits that Vitamin D provides. The Endocrine Society recommends that adults take 1,500 to 2,000 IU per day and 1000IU for infants to reduce the rate of Vitamin D deficiency
6 further benefits of Vitamin D
1. Vitamin D helps to combat depression
Researchers have determined that a person’s vitamin D level if deficient could influence their risk of developing depression. Studies have found that people with lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies are at a much greater risk of mental health issues. Vitamin D receptors have been identified as being in the same areas of the brain that is associated with depression.
2. Vitamin D protects against Respiratory Infections
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to respiratory infections including pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchiolitis. Population based studies have shown an association between circulating Vitamin D levels and lung function capability. One review of 25 randomized controller’s trials involving 11,300 people suggests that participants who were vitamin D deficient saw a 12 percent reduced risk for respiratory infections after taking regular Vitamin D supplements.
3. Vitamin D reduces the risk for Type 2 Diabetes
An observational study from the Nurses Health Study that included 83, 779 women over the age of 20 years found an increased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes in those with low Vitamin D status. It was found that a combined daily intake of greater than 800IU of Vitamin D combined with 100mg of calcium had the effect in reducing the risk of type 2 Diabetes by 33%.
4. Vitamin D protects against Heart Disease and Stroke
An increasing number of studies point to Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and strokes. And a study conducted at Ohio University shows that Vitamin D3 can also significantly restore the damage to the cardiovascular system ‘Generally Vitamin D3 is associated with the bones,’ says Dr. Tadeusz Malinski. ‘However in recent years in clinical settings people recognize that many patients who have a heart attack will have a deficiency of D3. It doesn’t mean that the deficiency caused the heart attack, but it increased the risk of heart attack.’ Malinski’s team discovered from their studies that vitamin D3 is a powerful stimulator of nitric oxide (NO) which is a major signaling molecule in the regulation of blood flow and in the prevention of the formation of clots in the cardiovasculature. Also found was that Vitamin D significantly reduced the level of oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system.
5. Vitamin D helps prevent Dementia and Cognitive Decline
Research suggests that people with very low levels of Vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. A large study published in Neurology found that people with extremely low levels of Vitamin D were actually twice as likely as those with normal Vitamin D levels to develop diseases related to cognitive decline.
6. Vitamin D controls symptoms of Autoimmune Conditions
Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been widely recognized as contributing to autoimmune disease. Dr Steven Gundry a Californian based cardiologist believes that far more than the standard recommended amount of Vitamin D3 could be one of the keys to treating auto immune disease. He has found that his autoimmune patients were almost always Vitamin D deficient. Gundry believes that high levels of vitamin D3 help heal the gut issues that he says are the root cause of autoimmune diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health up to 23.5 million Americans (which is more than seven percent of the population) suffer from an autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising.
Since the advent of the Coronavirus Pandemic there are questions on whether or not Vitamin D supplementation could help to combat the virus and its effects Experts confirm that as Vitamin D has been shown to have overall positive health benefits that during the Pandemic a Vitamin D supplement could be beneficial in helping to keep people as nutritionally fit as possible. The Vitamins effects on mood could also help to dampen the negative mental effects that the Pandemic has unleashed with its side effects of isolation, anxiety and depression. If not an all in one cure or preventative, Vitamin D in the right proportions could play an important role in keeping not only our bodies but our minds and spirits as positive as possible in an uncertain time.