Increasing evidence proves the undeniable therapeutic benefits of vitamin D

In 2014, breast cancer, the most common cause of cancer in women, claimed at least 41,000 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, health experts advised that patients can fight cancer with proper supplementation, particularly an increased intake of vitamin D.

Vitamin D, disease prevention, and recommended intake

If the public is made aware of how they can maintain optimum vitamin D levels, experts believe that the reported cases of breast cancer can go down by a whopping 100,000 annually. The vitamin can even help eliminate breast cancer altogether.

According to integrative healthcare provider Dr. Daniel Cobb, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.), vitamin D is “a fat-soluble hormone” that is crucial for a strong immune system. The “sunshine vitamin” helps keep the bones and teeth strong, and it can fight off various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative conditions.

Additionally, vitamin D can help the body detoxify carcinogenic heavy metals, which makes it an important cancer-fighting vitamin.

There have been many reported cases of vitamin D deficiencies in the U.S. and this is linked to increased vulnerability to various health problems. For example, studies have determined that individuals with vitamin D deficiency have a 122 percent risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A deficiency of the vitamin is also connected to other conditions such as depression, multiple sclerosis, and respiratory infections.

The human body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. Experts recommend 20 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight several times a week to enjoy health benefits. Some foods contain vitamin D, but supplementation is often required to get ideal levels in the blood. (Related: Supplementing with vitamin D shown to reduce chronic lower back pain.)

Experts also suggest supplementing with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to maximize the health benefits of the vitamin. Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D that’s naturally produced in the body. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) on the other hand, the form that comes from plants, won’t give you the same health benefits.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is recommended that adults take 600 international units (IUs) a day of vitamin D. The amount has recently increased to 400 IUs following the therapeutic benefits of vitamin D that were determined by several studies.

Dr. Cobb, who is also an authority on integrative healing protocols, said that the recommended daily intake won’t always be enough, especially for cancer prevention. Even naturopathic physicians agree, with most of them prescribing supplementary dosages of at least 8,000 IUs a day.

While the Vitamin D Council advised that adults need at least 5,000 IUs of the vitamin daily, the Institutes of Medicine warned that 4,000 IUs is the “tolerable safe upper limit.”

Dr. Cobb explained that determining the amount you may need is “highly individual” and the answer will rely on these factors:

  • Altitude and latitude of your location/where you live
  • Amount of skin exposed to sunlight
  • Body weight
  • Skin color
  • Sunscreen use/lack of it
  • Time spent in the sun

To determine the proper dosage of vitamin D, individuals can get blood tests that can find out their vitamin D status. Dr. Cobb shared that he takes 4,000 IUs daily during winter, and only 1,000 IUs daily in the summer.

Fast facts on cholecalciferol

Cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is needed to maintain the body’s overall health.

  • The human body produces cholecalciferol when skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  • Sources of cholecalciferol include various foods such as cod liver oil, fortified breakfast cereals, margarine, and milk, and vitamin supplements.
  • Cholecalciferol is needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous from the stomach. Vitamin D3 is also crucial for the proper functioning of these minerals.

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