By Dr. Mercola
Vitamin D deficiency is pandemic in the United States, but many Americans, including physicians, are not aware that they may be lacking this important nutrient.
The video above may be one of the most important videos for you and your family's health this year.
I urge you to find some time to view it, so you can understand the nearly unbelievable benefits you will receive by understanding this vital nutrient.
In the second video, you will learn some important facts about sun exposure, as tanning incorrectly may indeed increase your risk of skin cancer...
For those of you who prefer to read your information, rather than watch it, I've summarized some of the most important points below.
But, again, please do take the time to watch the video lecture, as it has all the highly valuable details you need to know about vitamin D.
The Role of Vitamin D in Your Body
There are only about 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence about 3,000 of them.
Vitamin D isn't actually a vitamin, although scientists refer to it as such.
It's actually a steroid hormone that you get from sun exposure, food sources, and/or supplementation.
The term refers to either vitamin D2 or D3, but D3 (chemical name 25-hydroxy vitamin D) is real vitamin D—it's the same substance produced naturally through your skin by sun exposure.
Older research appears at odds on whether your body cares which form of D it's getting, but a study in the January 2011 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism1 found that D3 is 87 percent more effective than D2, and is the preferred form for treating vitamin D deficiency.2
Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Cancer Has Been Well-Tested and Confirmed
Theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies, according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Here are just a few highlights into some of the most noteworthy findings:
- Some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased, according to previous research by Dr. Garland and colleagues. And that's just counting the death toll for two types of cancer.
- Optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.
- A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent.3 This was such groundbreaking news that the Canadian Cancer Society has actually begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.
- Light-skinned women who had high amounts of long-term sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer (cancer that spreads beyond your breast) as women with lower amounts of regular sun exposure, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.4
- A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about30 percent of cancer deaths – which amounts to two million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States – could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:
- Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
- Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
- Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
- Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
Beyond cancer, researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent other chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year! Vitamin D also fights colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. In fact, it is very rare for someone with optimized vitamin D levels to come down with the flu.
Many Are Vitamin D Deficient
In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state. Meanwhile, it's thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public. Further:
- Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in adults5 of all ages who have increased skin pigmentation, such as those whose ancestors are from Africa, the Middle East, or India, who always wear sun protection, or who limit their outdoor activities.
- African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups.
- 60 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency.
- Studies showed very low levels of vitamin D among children, the elderly, and women.
- One U.S. study of women revealed that almost half of African American women of childbearing age might be vitamin D deficient.