Is Your Vitamin D Level Putting You at Risk?

Several recent studies have shown that vitamin D may assist in the prevention of breast cancer. But did you know low levels of vitamin D could also be putting you at risk for the disease?

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that 74 percent of pre-menopausal women who were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer are deficient in vitamin D. In addition, women with early stage breast cancer that have lower vitamin D blood levels have worse outcomes than those with adequate levels of vitamin D.

In another breast cancer study that pooled dose-response data from the Harvard Nurses Health Study and the St. George’s Hospital Study found that the data was very clear in showing that individuals in the group with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D had the highest rates of breast cancer and that breast cancer rates dropped as vitamin D blood levels increased.

How can you find your Vitamin D levels?
Vitamin D levels can be determined through a 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D blood test.

What are sufficient levels of Vitamin D?
In the studies mentioned, vitamin D levels were determined to be sufficient at 30ng/mL or greater; insufficient at a level of 20-29 ng/mL; and deficient at levels below 20 ng/mL. Levels consistently greater than 200ng/mL are considered to be potentially toxic.

How can you get more Vitamin D?
The best ways to increase Vitamin D levels are first through diet, then through exposure to sunlight, followed by supplements of vitamin D3. Foods containing high levels of vitamin D include cod liver oil, sockeye salmon, and mackerel.
Sun exposure should be 10-15 minutes daily and should be discontinued before the skin begins to change color (tan or burn). 

How much Vitamin D do you need?
The daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D does not appear to be effective in correcting a deficiency. The serum levels associated with a 50 percent risk reduction could be maintained by a daily intake of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3.

Vitamin D Co-Factors
In order to utilize vitamin D properly the body also needs magnesium, zinc, vitamin K2, boron, genestein, and small amounts of vitamin A.

What are some other benefits from Vitamin D?
Adequate vitamin D levels also improve bone mineral density, quality of life, and mood.

Susan G. Komen Foundation

Vitamin D Council

University of California, San Diego News Center


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