Vitamin D reduces cancer risk

With all the heliophobes taking up space on the globe today, you don't have to be a sprocket scientist (also known as an electrician) to see that the sun-will-kill-you propaganda has taken root. But these sunscreen-slathering, umbrella-toting pasties aren't any healthier for all of their misguided efforts.

You see, every time they smear the smelly gook on their skin, wear long-sleeved shirts, or just refuse to go outside, they're increasing their chances of developing cancer, arthritis, brittle bones, and plenty of other less-than-healthy problems. That's because in the process of blocking out the sun's rays, they're also blocking out one of the most important nutrients for your body vitamin D.

Studies have shown time and again that if there's one nutrient you don't want to be without, it's this one. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • It helps prevent falls. An analysis of five studies on the benefits of vitamin D showed that a sufficient daily dose of this sun-vitamin can reduce the incidence of falls in those 65 or over by 22%.
  • It increases lung cancer survival. Researchers at Harvard found that patients who had higher levels of vitamin D in their blood and had undergone surgery in the sunnier months were more than 2.5 times more likely to be alive after 5 years than whose who had the lowest levels of vitamin D.
  • It prevents MS. Of the 187,000 people in the Harvard School of Public Health study, those who had a high intake of supplemental vitamin D were 40% less likely to develop incurable MS.
  • It prevents rheumatoid arthritis. In an 11-year study of 30,000 people, those who consumed the most vitamin D were 30% less likely to develop the disease.
  • It helps treat steroid-resistant asthma. Research conducted at King's College London reveal that vitamin D supplementation may help patients that don't respond well to inhaled steroids (the typical asthma treatment) to become more responsive to therapy.

This list doesn't even put a dent in the arsenal of studies that continues to strengthen vitamin D's defenses. And the latest one I came across might be the most impressive yet.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking vitamin D and calcium together can significantly reduce a woman's risk of developing several types of cancer.

Here's a quick rundown of the study: 1,179 healthy postmenopausal women were divided into three groups, one taking 1,400-1,500 mg of supplemental calcium, another taking that amount of calcium plus 1,100 IU of vitamin D3, and the third taking a placebo.

The researchers found that the women taking calcium and vitamin D3 together had a 60% decrease in their overall cancer risk compared to BOTH of the other groups.

A prominent vitamin D researcher from the University of California, San Diego said the study was "a breakthrough of great medical and public health importance. No other method to prevent cancer has been identified that has such a powerful impact."

Just like most great discoveries, this one came about BY ACCIDENT. The original purpose of the study was to determine how the combined efforts of calcium and vitamin D could improve bone health. But it didn't take long for the researchers to figure out that the lower cancer risk was far more impressive.

But even though it wasn't their intent, they came out with results that prove - yet again - that I've been right about vitamin D all along. But there's more to it than just that letter D. Pick up any random bottle of vitamin D at the drug store, and chances are good it'll be the D2 variety. Why anyone would choose to sell the weaker form of the vitamin en masse - or at all - is beyond me. You should really be loading up on D3, the same form your body produces when it's exposed to the sun.

You can't trust the RDA (recommended daily allowance) at all - it's as skewed as everything else you'll hear from the USDA and any other government-funded organization that pretends to know about nutrition. They tell you that you only need 400-600 IU's per day, but you should really be getting at least 1,000 IU's. And if you ignore everything else I say, listen to this one thing: The amount used the study was 1,100 IU, which is exactly why the results were so dramatic.

When it comes right down to just how much vitamin D is right for you, though, only your doctor and a blood test can tell you that. An optimal blood level of vitamin D is 45 to 50 ng/ml. And remember to get a healthy dose of sun.