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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 3, 2007

Vitamin D Boosts Health, Cuts Cancer Risk in Half

(OMNS October 3, 2007) New research shows that getting plenty of vitamin D prolongs life and improves health. Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in causing seventeen varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, and periodontal disease. (1) This does not mean that vitamin D deficiency is the only cause of these diseases. What it does mean is that vitamin D, and the many ways in which it affects a person's health, must no longer be overlooked.

Here is a very important example: Ample intake of vitamin D (about 2,000 IU/day) can cut breast cancer incidence by half. (2) If vitamin D levels were increased worldwide, 600,000 cases of breast and other cancers could be prevented each year. Nearly 150,000 cases of cancer could be prevented in the United States alone.

A four-year study of 1,179 healthy, postmenopausal women showed that taking calcium, along with nearly three times the U.S. government's recommendation of vitamin D3, showed a dramatic 60 percent or greater reduction in all forms of cancer. (3) Additionally, there is growing evidence that maintaining vitamin D levels in the body during the winter prevent the flu and other viral infections by strengthening the immune system (4).

How much vitamin D does the average person need? In the summer, those with at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on their skin most days should take 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day. In the winter, those with dark skin, or those who have little sun exposure on their skin, should take up to 4,000 IU each day. Suit your vitamin D3 supplementation to your lifestyle: those who have darker skin, are older, avoid sun exposure or live in the northern US should take the higher amounts.

Vitamin D is remarkably safe; there have been no deaths caused by the vitamin. (5) The best way to be sure you are getting the right amount is to have your doctor give you a blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. If your vitamin D intake from all sources is maintaining your blood level at or near 50 ng/ml, you have a good vitamin D status. If it is more than 10% below this level, supplemental sources of vitamin D3 should be increased.

People consuming only government-recommended levels of 200-400 IU/day often have blood levels considerably below 50 ng/ml. This means the government’s recommendations are too low, and should be raised immediately.

1. The Vitamin D Council,

2. Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB, Grant WB, Giovannucci EL, Lipkin M, Newmark H, Holick MF, Garland FC. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2007. Mar;103(3-5):708-11.

3. Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Amer J Clin Nutrition, 2007. Vol. 85, No. 6, 1586-1591, June.

4. Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, Holick MF, Grant WB, Madronich S, Garland CF, Giovannucci E. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect, 2006. Dec;134(6):1129-40. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

5. Saul AW. Vitamin D: Deficiency, diversity and dosage. J Orthomolecular Med, 2003. Vol 18, No 3 and 4, p 194-204.

Vitamins Are Safe

There is not even one death per year from vitamin supplementation. (American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 22, No. 5, September 2004. )

Nutritional Medicine is also known as Orthomolecular Medicine

Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor and contact person. Email:

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