People with higher levels of Vitamin D may be at a lower risk of developing all cancers, specifically liver cancer, a study involving over 30,000 participants has found.
Vitamin D is made by the skin in response to sunlight. It helps to maintain calcium levels in the body to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. While the benefits of Vitamin D on bone diseases are well known, there was growing evidence that Vitamin D may benefit other chronic diseases, including some cancers.
In the study published in the journal The BMJ, the researchers found that a higher level of Vitamin D was associated with a lower (around 20 per cent) relative risk of overall cancer in both men and women.
Higher vitamin D levels were also associated with a lower (30-50 per cent) relative risk of liver cancer. The association was more evident in men than in women. “Higher vitamin D concentration was associated with lower risk of total cancer.
These findings support the hypothesis that vitamin D has protective effects against cancers at many sites,” said Taiki Yamaji, from the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo. For the study, the team analysed 33,736 male and female participants aged between 40 to 69 years and were then monitored for an average of 16 years.
No association was found for lung or prostate cancer. None of the cancers examined showed an increased risk associated with higher vitamin D levels. While the findings support the theory that Vitamin D may protect against the risk of cancer, there may be a ceiling effect, which may suggest that there are no additional benefits beyond a certain level of Vitamin D, Yamaji said.
Reduced risk of flu
Reduced risk of diabetes
Several observational studies have shown an inverse relationship between blood concentrations of vitamin D in the body and risk of type 2 diabetes. In people with type 2 diabetes, insufficient vitamin D levels may negatively effect insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. In one particular study, infants who received 2,000 International Units per day of vitamin D had an 88 percent lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes by the age of 32.
Children with normal blood pressure who were given 2,000 International Units (IU) per day had significantly lower arterial wall stiffness after 16 weeks compared with children who were given only 400 IU per day.
Low vitamin D status has also been associated with a higher risk and severity of atopic childhood diseases and allergic diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema. Vitamin D may enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids, making it potentially useful as a supportive therapy for people with steroid-resistant asthma.
Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D seem to be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a cesarean section. Poor vitamin D status is associated with gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. It is also important to note that high vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of food allergy in the child during the first 2 years of life.
Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death, and reducing cell proliferation and metastases. Vitamin D influences more than 200 human genes, which could be impaired when we do not have enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity, and swine flu, however more reliable studies are needed before these associations can be proven. Many of these benefits occur through Vitamin D’s positive effect on the immune system
Vitamin D in food
Although sunshine is considered the best natural source of vitamin D, there’s a risk of exposure to skin cancer due to ultraviolet rays. Here are some dietary sources of Vitamin D that you can fall back on, instead:
- Egg Yolks
So as it turns out, yolk isn’t all that bad. If you have been throwing out the bright yellow egg center for fear of increase in levels of cholesterol, you must stop. Egg yolks are rich in Vitamin D as well as good fats.
Another food that you have probably started banning from your diet for fear of weight gain is cheese. However, it’s one of the richest sources of vitamin D, which should be reason enough for you to spread it on your morning toast, every once in a while. Ricotta is said to have the highest levels of vitamin D.
- Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon are healthy sources of protein and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as Vitamin D. So load up on the seafood for good health.
The yummy, edible fungi mushroom is another food you need to start loading up on from today for a boost in levels of vitamin D in your body. Sun dry your mushrooms before eating them for additional health benefits.
- Soy Milk
Soy milk might not be your favourite beverage, but it can certainly bring your vitamin D levels up. Soy milk has the same amount of protein as dairy milk, but it is fortified with vitamins C, D iron, which is reason enough for you to start drinking it regularly.
Vitamin D is important for intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and has also been known to boost brain power in the elderly.