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Comprehensive Cancer Centers notes a research study that shows vitamin D may improve immunity for cancer. Learn about it, and how to get more of it.

A recent study found a potential link between vitamin D and improved immunity in the fight against cancer. This is good news, as the vitamin is simple to add to diets and lifestyles and provides already confirmed health benefits. The team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers is bringing awareness to this study in case the vitamin is indeed helpful against cancer, as well as provide other health benefits.

In addition to this new study, the vitamin has enjoyed increased attention for its crucial role in human health and has become referred to as the sunshine vitamin. It is synthesized by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Despite its importance, many people worldwide, and even right here in sunny Las Vegas, suffer from deficiency, which can lead to various health issues. It’s essential to understand the benefits and how people can increase their intake.

Gaining an Improved Understanding Vitamin D
The fat-soluble vitamin plays a vital role in many physiological functions within the body. A primary function is regulation of the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. These are minerals essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Without it, human bodies struggle to absorb calcium efficiently. This leads to weakened bones and increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

In addition to critical bone health, the vitamin is involved in modulating the immune system, promoting cardiovascular health. It also supports muscle function, regulating mood and maintaining mental health. Adequate levels are seen as helpful in reducing risks of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Specific Benefits of Vitamin D
The following offers simple ways to better understand the specific benefits that necessary levels help reduce health risks, and improve general health:

  • Cancer Prevention: While more research is needed, as noted in the referenced study, it may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer.
  • Bone Health: Adequate levels are crucial for maintaining bone density and strength, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, especially in older adults.
  • Immune System Support: It plays vital roles in immune function. This includes helping the body to defend against infections and diseases and individuals with higher vitamin D levels may have a reduced risk of respiratory infections, such as colds and flus.
  • Cardiovascular Health: It may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease by improving vascular health and reducing inflammation.
  • Muscle Function: It is essential for muscle health and function. Adequate levels of vitamin D can help maintain muscle strength and reduce the risk of falls and fractures, particularly in older adults.
  • Mood Regulation: It has been found to play a role in regulating mood and may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during the winter months, has been linked to low levels of vitamin D due to reduced sunlight exposure.

Sources of Vitamin D
The primary sources come from the sun, diets and if necessary, taking supplements to make up for deficiencies. 

  • Sunlight: The most natural and efficient way for the body to obtain vitamin D is through sunlight exposure. When UVB rays from the sun hit the skin, a chemical reaction occurs, leading to the synthesis of vitamin D. Factors such as skin pigmentation, time of day, and season can affect vitamin D synthesis. Living in Southern Nevada, getting outside and carefully getting some sun helps with vitamin D, but Comprehensive cautions people to be smart about their exposure to the sun, as skin cancer can occur if one isn’t careful.
  • Dietary Sources: While there are not many foods that naturally contain vitamin D, some dietary sources can help supplement intake. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are excellent sources of vitamin D. Other foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, orange juice, cereals, and some dairy products. Additionally, egg yolks and certain types of mushrooms contain small amounts of vitamin D.
  • Supplements: For individuals who are unable to obtain sufficient vitamin D through sunlight and diet alone, supplements may be recommended. Supplements are available in various forms, including D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is the preferred form as it is more effective at raising and maintaining levels in the body.

How Can You Get More Vitamin D In Your System?

  • Spending Time Outdoors: Aim to spend some time outdoors each day, especially during the sunniest hours (typically late morning to early afternoon). Expose arms and legs to sunlight without sunscreen for a brief period to allow for  synthesis.
  • Eating Vitamin D-Rich Foods: Incorporate food into your diet, such as fatty fish, fortified dairy and plant-based products, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
  • Supplementation: Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if vitamin D supplements are necessary. They can recommend the appropriate dosage based on individual needs and existing vitamin D levels.
  • Regular Testing: Periodically monitor levels through blood tests, especially for individuals at higher risk of deficiency, such as older adults, individuals with darker skin, those with limited sun exposure, and people living in regions with long winters.
  • Balanced Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, and adequate sun exposure while practicing sun safety measures to prevent skin damage.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining overall health and well-being, with benefits extending beyond bone health to immune function, cardiovascular health, muscle function, mood regulation, and possibly cancer prevention. Regular monitoring and lifestyle adjustments can ensure adequate intake and reap the numerous benefits associated with this essential nutrient.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with cancer. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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