Vitamin D: The Greatest Cancer Fighter?
The most powerful cancer protection ever discovered is naturally-occurring vitamin D. One study published in Cancer Biomarkers and Prevention found that low vitamin D significantly increases overall cancer risk. (1) Another study published in Anticancer Research showed that the vitamin D you make from sunshine lowers your chances of dying from 15 kinds of cancer. (2) Two studies published in 2007 found that vitamin D can lower the chance you’ll get cancer by 77% (3) and that production in the skin decreases the likelihood you’ll get stomach, colorectal, liver and gallbladder, pancreas, lung, breast, prostate, bladder and kidney cancers. (4)
Vitamin D also enhances mood; boosts your immune system; prevents bone and muscle weakness; protects against heart disease and diabetes; fights arthritis, pain and inflammation; and helps prevent Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
How much do you need?
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is often considered adequate for healthy people, whereas a level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency. Optimal levels are considered 50-70 ng per ml and 70+ to help reverse cancer and heart disease.
However, many people are deficient. According to Mercola.com (5), the more vitamin D is studied, the more it has become clear that deficiency is rampant:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 32 percent of children and adults throughout the US were vitamin D deficient.
- The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 50 percent of children aged one to five years, and 70 percent of children between the
ages of six and 11, are deficient in vitamin D.
- Top vitamin D researchers estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
- It is estimated that over 95 percent of US senior citizens may be deficient in vitamin D.
However, before you run to the nearest store to get thousands of units of vitamin D, it's important to understand the whole picture. How did we get into this deficient state in the first place? The sun phobia of the last 30 years is a major contributor. People slathering on chemical sunscreens at the first sign of a ray of sun due to fear of skin cancer is a big factor. Unbeknownst to most, chemical sunscreens are actually more cancer-causing than the sun. If you are fair-complected and need protection greater than your hat and shirt, please use mineral only sunscreens. A large selection of safe *sunscreens is now available, and an extensive list can be found at the Environmental Working Group's site, EWG.org.
Sources of vitamin D
The easiest, safest and cheapest way (it’s free) to increase the amount of vitamin D your body produces is through regular exposure to sunlight. This fact alone should validate the importance of vitamin D. Imagine, a substance so important that your body figures out how to make it just from sunshine – but getting enough is not easy, especially during the winter months.
Another way to increase your vitamin D levels is through nutritional supplementation. Although there is no question how critical it is to have optimal levels of vitamin D, the very important concept of the source of the supplement is not often addressed. Most doctors and even nutritionists are not aware of the significant concept that a supplement must come from the source nature provides, food. A food source of a vitamin or mineral includes all the synergistic and balancing nutrients that prevent a synthetic vitamin from becoming toxic and causing imbalances. This is particularly critical with vitamin D because this vitamin behaves more like a hormone than a nutrient.
You may know that hormones are the most powerful of all substances in your body. They are so powerful that they are measured in nano and pica grams. That's a billionth and trillionth of a gram. Those are very small amounts indeed. If you replace hormones in too large amounts, a "negative feedback loop" is initiated in reaction to the overdose. What this means is that the receptors on your cell membranes shut down and can cause even more problems than not having enough of the substance in the first place. For example, one of the many functions of Vitamin D is to take calcium from the blood and deposit it in the tissues. A serious problem with overdosing on vitamin D can be excess calcium deposition in joints and arteries causing dangerous arteriosclerosis and joint problems.
So after sunlight, the next best source of vitamin D is through whole foods, which include all the nutrimental co-factors like vitamin K and essential fats that prevent the overdose effect. Fatty fish (like herring, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon), beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are excellent sources. For vegans, good sources are hempseed, soy, almond, hazelnut or rice milks.
My favorite source is unpasteurized cod liver oil. You get the benefits of vitamin D and the benefits of essential omega 3's in just one supplement. The two companies that I trust to provide the best quality cod liver oil in palatable gel capsules are Standard Process and Green Pastures.
Insure that you express your highest healing potential. Get your vitamin D levels checked with a blood test, supplement safely, and enjoy some sun to get all the benefits known -- and yet to be discovered -- of vitamin D.
[Editor’s note: In addition to the references below, Dr. Collings wishes to credit the writings of Drs. Tedd Koren, Joseph Mercola, and Bruce West for many of these concepts. Dr. Collings maintains a chiropractic and nutrition practice in the Philadelphia area and can be reached at www.drveronicacollings.com or 610-828-9634.]
*Sunumbra is a "Trusted Vendor" of BeatCancer.Org
 Ordóñez-Mena J, Schöttker B, Haug U, Müller H, Köhrle J, Schomburg L, Holleczek B, Brenner H. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and cancer risk in older adults: results from a large German prospective cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013;22(5):905-916. ?
 Grant WB, Garland CF. The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates. Anticancer Research. 2006; 26:2687-2699.
 Lappe JM et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2007;85(6):1586-1591.
 Tuohimaa P et al. Does solar exposure, as indicated by the non-melanoma skin cancers, protect from solid cancers: vitamin D as a possible explanation. Eur. J. Cancer. 2007;43(11):1701-1712.