“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
North of the equator, where sunshine is poor during prolonged winter periods, researchers estimate that increasing intake of vitamin D3 could prevent 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer worldwide.
According to Philippe Autier, MD, and Sara Gandini, PhD, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France said that, “Ecological and observational studies suggest that low vitamin D status could be associated with higher mortality from life-threatening conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus that account for 60% to 70% of total mortality in high-income countries.
It a statistical observation that over 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year, if vitamin D3 levels among populations worldwide were increased. (Source: researchers from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego – UCSD).
That means that nearly 150,000 cases of cancer that could be prevented in the United States alone.
To increase your vitamin D3 levels, the researchers recommended a combination of dietary methods, supplements and sunlight exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes a day, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which behaves like a hormone, regulating the formation of bone and the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine. It helps to control the movement of calcium between bone and blood, and vice versa.
In infancy and childhood, deficiency of vitamin D causes the deformed bones characteristic of rickets. In adults a lack of the vitamin causes a softening of the bones known as osteomalacia. Deficiency is seen more often in northern countries, or where tradition dictates that the body is well covered by clothes, Deficiency is also common among women in the parts of the Islamic world, where the burqua or the veil is a custom.
An excess of the vitamin can cause loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, headache, depression and deposits of calcium in the kidneys.
Requirements For Vitamin D:
It has been found that bone loss in post menopause women occurs mostly in the winter due to falling levels of vitamin D products in the blood. A winter intake from fortified foods or supplements is strongly recommended to promote bone health. Winter intakes of about 15µg (micrograms) per day appear to be enough to prevent bone loss
Vegans and Vitamin D.
Vegans usually obtain vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin or by taking fortified foods such as Soya milk, margarine), breakfast cereals and vitamin supplement, which are made from yeast or other fungi. Bright sunlight is not essential for Vitamin D synthesis by the body. Even sunshine on a cloudy summer day will stimulate formation of some D in the skin, while a short summer holiday in the open air will increase blood levels of the vitamin by two or three times the amount.
Vegans generally obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D, if they spend time outdoors in spring, summer and autumn. In winter, vegans can increase their Vitamin D levels by natural fortified supplements. Vegan women who are breast-feeding should ensure that they take foods rich in vitamin D.
References and Links:
Arch Intern Med. 2007; 167:1709-1710, 1730-1737.