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Take balanced approach to vitamin D, says cancer society
Last Updated: Monday, April 30, 2007 | 10:42 PM ET
CBC News
In light of emerging research on the benefits of vitamin D, the Canadian Cancer Society said Monday that Canadians could consider brief, unprotected exposure to the sun, increased dietary intake of the vitamin and the use of supplements.

Over the past 18 months, evidence has emerged suggesting that vitamin D may reduce the risk for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma and other diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D, which is produced naturally in the body through exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, is more available in the summer than in the winter and in the south than the north, said nutrition researcher Reinhold Vieth of Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

"There's a lot of cancers, in particular, you know breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer, that correlate with latitude," said Vieth. "Even the prospects, your future with that cancer, depends on which season of the year your cancer was diagnosed in."

Balanced approach
Since exposure to the sun carries well-established risks for increased skin cancer, cataracts and premature aging, people need to take a moderate, balanced approach, and not trade cancers for cancer, said Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy for the Canadian Cancer Society.

"Some limited exposure unprotected may in fact reduce your risk of disease," Logan told CBC Newsworld, adding people should still follow sun sense guidelines, such as not overexposing themselves between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wearing sunscreen when the UV index is higher than three.
"At the moment, probably going back and forth from your house to your car will be sufficient to maintain optimum levels in Canada," said Logan. "We're not talking about an hour."

Current recommendation low
How much sun people need depends on age, skin colour, where you live, and the intensity of the sun — factors that influence how quickly vitamin D is produced.

Most experts believe the current recommendation of 400 units of vitamin D a day for people up to age 50, and 600 units daily for those over 70, is probably too low, Logan said, suggesting somewhere between 400 units and the upper safe limit of 2,000 units a day.
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Good post Sue. Thank you.

Long recognized for aiding calcium absorption and thus promoting bone health, adequate vitamin D intake helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In 2006, studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of various other diseases and alleviate the symptoms of certain medical conditions as well.

"These studies add to a growing body of research that suggests adequate vitamin D levels convey a broad spectrum of health benefits, from reducing the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers to playing a preventative role in multiple sclerosis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis," said Lori Hoolihan, Ph.D., R.D., nutrition research specialist at Dairy Council of California. "Emerging research also suggests that vitamin D may be involved in optimal functioning of the immune system, improving mental activities and reducing the risk of periodontal disease."

Dairy Council of California is urging health professionals to get up to speed on this research, because health conditions linked to vitamin D insufficiency are on the rise. Rickets, a childhood softening of the bones that leads to fractures and deformity, has resurfaced in the United States as a public health concern. Rickets reached almost epidemic levels in the early 1900s before it was virtually eradicated by fortifying milk with vitamin D. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that rickets is now back on the radar among health professionals, with 166 cases of rickets identified in children between 1986 and 2003. Additionally, researchers suspect many children and adolescents have borderline or undetected deficiencies, which could contribute to the development of osteomalacia -- or weak bones -- in addition to other health conditions later in life.
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For decades, vitamin D was appreciated largely for its role in boosting the absorption of calcium, important for bone health. However, over the past decade and especially the past 5 years, research has linked a broad range of additional benefits to having ample vitamin D. It's shown that the nutrient fights cancers and diabetes, is the pivotal feedstock for a hormone that protects muscle, and inhibits autoimmune disorders from multiple sclerosis and lupus to inflammatory bowel disease.
Thank you everyone for your input.
Here are more facts:

The high rate of natural production of vitamin D3 cholecalciferol in the skin is the single most important fact every person should know about vitamin D because it has such profound implications for the natural human condition.
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor that has recently been found to play a role in a wide variety of diseases. Current research indicates 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—and it probably doesn't stop there, there is still much more research that needs to be done.
This does not mean that vitamin D is the only cause of these diseases, or that you will not get them if you take vitamin D. What it does mean is that vitamin D, and the many ways in which it affects a person's health, can no longer be overlooked by the healthcare industry nor by individuals striving to maintain, or achieve, a greater state of health.

Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light[P]erhaps the biggest bombshell about vitamin D's effects is about to go off. In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the sunshine vitamin. Their results are nothing short of astounding...those taking the vitamin had about a 60 percent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large—twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking—it almost looks like a typographical error.
And in an era of pricey medical advances, the reduction seems even more remarkable because it was achieved with an over‑the‑counter supplement costing pennies a day.
~ The Globe and Mail

The sunshine superstar: study reveals Vitamin D as "wonder vitamin"Twenty minutes lying in the sun this weekend could provide your best chance of avoiding colds and flu, according to new research which demonstrates that vitamin D, not vitamin C, provides the most efficient protection against cold viruses.
~ The Independent
I found an article in the Globe and Mail newspaper, suggesting that taking vitamin D appears to extend life by 7%.
Maybe we should look at more studies to see if we need to take a daily supplement of vitamin D. With the risk of skin cancer we put on sunscreen and this prevents us from absorbing the vitamin from the sun.

Vicky 2Hearts
Update from the Globe and Mail newspaper, Monday September 24, 2007. June the Canadian Cancer Society said adults should take 1000 IU a day. That call coincided with the release of a U.S. study that found taking the vitamin at levels above those deemed adequate by Health Canada reduced cancer risk by an astounding 60 per cent.
From Yahoo:

What vitamin D does

Vitamin D is one of several substances called vitamins, which the body needs to grow and develop normally. Vitamin D is famous for its role in helping the body absorb the calcium needed for strong bones and in maintaining an adequate level of calcium in the blood. A deficiency of vitamin D leads to a softening of the bones that in children is called rickets and in adults osteomalacia.

Vitamin D also plays a role in promoting cell growth, in building our immune function, and in reducing inflammation. New research is studying the role these activities may play in the development of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Checking the patient’s vitamin D status is becoming a common laboratory test ordered by doctors, and levels less than 30 nanomoles per liter (nmol/l) of blood indicates a deficiency.
Benefits of Vitamin D

While you’re catching some rays this summer, think about vitamin D. Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D1, D2, and D3. It can affect as many as 2,000 genes in the body.

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Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).

1. Vitamin D fights disease

In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:

2. Vitamin D reduces depression

Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one studyTrusted Source, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.

Beware of D-ficiency

Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. These factors include:

  • Being in an area with high pollution
  • Using sunscreen
  • Spending more time indoors
  • Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
  • Having darker skin. (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb.)

These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:

Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.

If you’re diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids. You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.

Food sources of vitamin D

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.

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