Vitamin D: An Undervalued Miracle

Vitamin D is a miracle, no doubt about it. It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, build bones and stop osteoporosis, and prevent up to 70% of cancers. So why are so many Americans – up to 58% – so deficient in vitamin D? Mostly because this vitamin – actually a pro-hormone – has very few food sources, and many people don’t get the vitamin D they need from exposure to sunlight. Plus, because vitamin D uses cholesterol as a building block, cholesterol-lowering drugs actually make it more difficult for your body to synthesize vitamin D. And as we age, our skin changes structure in a way that can reduce vitamin D production by up to 60%. Plus, there are genetic factors involved as well. A polymorphism – a slight mutation – on the VDR (vitamin D receptor) gene makes it more difficult for the body to absorb and use available vitamin D, whether from sunlight or supplements. Our old recommended daily requirements for vitamin D are partly to blame as well. They have been set at 400 IUs, which is barely 10% of what the body needs. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is associated with at least 17 forms of cancer. Clinical research has found that over 75% of breast cancer survivors in their studies were vitamin D deficient, and other studies conclude that high levels of vitamin D – much higher than our current recommendations – may reduce the risk of breast cancer by 50%! That’s an amazing statistic – if vitamin D were a pharmaceutical drug, the manufacturer could practically boast a “miracle cure”. And yet, we tend to overlook something as simple as a nutrient like vitamin D. Other studies have found that vitamin D is able to enter breast cancer cells and trigger cell death – in other words, vitamin D can kill breast cancer cells. While there is no agreement on how much vitamin D a person needs for a daily intake, current research certainly shows a need for higher recommendations. In some disease treatment, extremely high dosages of 50,000 to 100,000 IU have been used, but for most of us, a daily intake of 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D – possibly boosting it in a range of 4,000 to 6,000 IU for cancer prevention – is probably just right.