Vitamin D is either absorbed in the intestine from food or through sun exposure on the skin. The liver and kidneys convert Vitamin D to its active form called calcitriol. Food sources include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, herring, eggs and Vitamin D enriched milk. Exposure from the sun depends on the pigment of the skin. A fair skinned person may only need up to 45 minutes per week versus a darker skin who could need up to three hours per week to meet requirements in summer months.
Vitamin D is known for its role in calcium absorption from the intestine and its active role in helping the body build and maintain bone structure and prevent osteoporosis and rickets. It has been associated with a decrease in incidence of multiple sclerosis cases in countries where sunshine and therefore Vitamin D is more plentiful.
In recent studies Vitamin D has been showing promising effects in cancer prevention. Studies have surfaced suggesting that higher Vitamin D levels were linked to a lower risk in
developing cancer particularly in post-menopausal women. Another study in May
suggested that women who consumed more calcium and Vitamin D before menopause
showed less risk in developing breast cancer.
The Canadian Cancer Society is now recommending 1000 IU per day in fall and winter
for adults living in Canada. To date, the society is wanting to do further investigation to
find firm answers on the health benefits of Vitamin D. This dosage is based on a
growing research body pointing towards its profound effects of reducing risks of
colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.
The use of Vitamin D for prevention of rickets has been known for years now. It is now
surfacing with many other health benefits, particularly in cancer prevention. Sources of
this age-old vitamin are through sun and diet exposure. Here’s to sunshine and fish to
give us our Vitamin D!
1. Canadian Cancer Society Website: Canadian Cancer Society announces Vitamin
D Recommendation. June 8, 2007.
2. A.D.A.M. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Reference Library.
Vitamin D. Metagenics website: http://www.metagenics.com/ADAM/index.html.