D is in fact more like a powerful hormone than a vitamin. It controls
the activity of over 2,000 of our genes and receptor sites for vitamin D
are to be found in virtually every cell in the human body. Vitamin D
comprises a family of seco-steroids, found naturally in only a few foods
such as fish liver oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks and liver.
Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol is the most active and useful form.
Mankind's main source of vitamin D comes from sunshine. When the UVB rays of the sun strike the skin it converts cholesterol in the epidermal skin cells into vitamin D. Dark skin, old age and the use of sunblock greatly reduces the production of this vitamin from sunshine. Vitamin D is also available as a supplement and is safe and inexpensive while providing many benefits for all, especially women. Sadly the research indicates that most women are deficient in vitamin D. Although there is much publicity about the need for vitamin D to protect women's bones against osteoporosis, this vitamin has many other important uses for women.
Vitamin D and breast cancer
There is very good evidence that vitamin D lowers the risk of breast cancer. Studies of vitamin D levels in women diagnosed with breast cancer show that the risk of breast cancer decreases rapidly as vitamin D levels increase.
Research at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, revealed an impressive link between high vitamin D intake and a reduced risk of breast cancer. Their findings reveal that high doses of vitamin D caused a 50 per cent reduction in breast tumors, and a 75 per cent decrease in cancer spread among those who already have the disease.
Other new research conducted at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska showed that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium can reduce your risk of several cancers especially breast cancer by an astonishing 77 per cent. This is strong evidence that vitamin D may be our most effective tool against many cancers.
Earlier, French scientists had suggested that getting added vitamin D from both supplements and sunshine might be the most effective way to prevent and treat breast cancers. The researchers in France came to that conclusion after they examined the records of over 67,000 French women.
Vitamin D's most active form, D3, blocks the growth of breast cancer tumors by encouraging the cells in the breast to remain healthy or, if cancer develops, it stimulates the cancer cells to commit cell suicide (apoptosis). D3 also decreases the blood supply to tumors and reduces the spread of cancer.
Although I have not seen any reported studies of treating breast cancer with vitamin D, some cancer treatment centres are now giving their cancer patients at least 5000 IU/day vitamin D. Holistic physicians like myself recommend even higher dosages along with daily sunbaths. Studies have shown that the combination of vitamin D and a calcium intake of more than 1000 mg/day provides added breast cancer protection for premenopausal women.
Many other types of cancer including colon, prostate and lung cancer have been shown to respond favourably to vitamin D.
Vitamin D and fibroids
A new study published in the journal Biology of Reproduction has found that vitamin D may effectively reduce the size of existing uterine fibroids, and may even help prevent them from forming in the first place.
This study provides a promising new approach in the search for a non-surgical treatment for fibroids that doesn't affect fertility, commented Dr Louis De Paolo of the National Institutes of Health. Rather than waiting to have a surgical procedure, women with fibroid tumors (or who may develop them later) may benefit greatly from simply exposing themselves more regularly to natural sunlight, and/or by supplementing with vitamin D3.
GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D
In just one hour of full body exposure to sunshine the body can produce up to 50,000 IU of vitamin D. But remember, the older you are, the darker your complexion, the less effective your skin becomes in making vitamin D. The use of sun blocks will stop virtually all vitamin D production. There is now an alarmingly high level of vitamin D deficiency in black people living in western societies.
For healthy individuals I recommend supplementing with vitamin D3 between 2,000 and 5,000 IU daily. Specific illness may require higher amounts to raise your vitamin D level to an optimal range. For higher therapeutic dosages, I use vitamin D3 drops. Ideally, you should monitor your blood vitamin D levels to determine your individual needs for this important vitamin.
Whether it is breast cancer, uterine fibroids, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic infections, neurological problems, respiratory ailments or skin diseases vitamin D has been shown to provide numerous benefits without negative side effects. It is not just for women but also critical for the health of men and children.
The Vitamin D Council has extensive scientific literature involving vitamin D and the many disorders that affect women, men and children worldwide. It can be accessed at: www.vitamindcouncil.org.
You may contact Dr Vendryes at email@example.com, visit him at www.tonyvendryes.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His book An Ounce of Prevention - Especially for Women is available locally and via the Internet.