Bone, Anti-Cancer Benefits of Sun Nutrient
New findings on vitamin D’ s anti-cancer benefits add to the growing list of this hot nutrient’s attributes. A recent U.C. San Diego study demonstrated that an additional 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day could reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50% and breast and ovarian cancer by 30%. These results were followed by another study from Northwestern University, which demonstrated just 400 IU of vitamin D per day reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 43%.
Researchers began to more deeply investigate vitamin D’ s possible chemo-protective benefits after observing higher cancer rates in northern latitudes with limited sunlight (which triggers the body’ s vitamin D production). Vitamin D was first identified by its deficiency, which caused rickets, a bone-deforming disease that once afflicted the very young (now very rare, primarily due to milk fortification). This lead to the understanding of how vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, thus supporting healthy bones, joints and teeth. In fact, among those 50 and older, those with lowest vitamin D levels have been found to have at least 25% more tooth loss.
While naturally occurring sources of vitamin D include white/button mushrooms and some seafood (oysters and canned salmon, sardines and mackerel), getting this much vitamin D solely from one’s diet can be challenging. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to natural sunshine. Excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancer and wrinkles so be sure to use sunscreen. Various factors can affect vitamin D levels. Long winter months, smog and darker skin can inhibit the body’ s ability to absorb the sunlight needed to produce vitamin D.