Vitamin D supplementation has huge beneficial health effects. First, lets discuss the physiology of Vitamin D and the effects of deficiency.
The process starts with ingestion of Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) from plant sterols or yeast or with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) obtained from oily fish.. UVB irradiation of skin 7-dehydrocholesterol can also produce vitamin D. These vitamin D precursors go to the liver where they are converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (which is what your doctor tests for to see if you are deficient in vitamin D!). 25-hydroxyvitamin D is transferred to the kidney where it is converted to the most active form, 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D.
The active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D will increase calcium absorption by the intestines which increases our calcium reserves
Vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) has multiple roles in the body as shown above. There are over 300 different binding sites for Vitamin D throughout the human genome with receptors present in all human tissues. The parathyroid glans in the neck secrete PTH to activate and regulate vitamin D.
Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include age>65, breastfeeding mothers, insufficient sunlight exposure, certain medications (anticonvulsants, steroids, others), obesity, physical inactivity, liver and kidney disease, and dark pigmented skin. Vitamin D deficiency was historically associated with rickets ( a bone disease)
Of course rickets is rare in the U.S. due to fortified foods.
Studies are clear that vitamin D is important for health and prevention. There is an inverse association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels with risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer. In other words, low vitamin D levels in the body are associated with higher cardiac events and higher risk of cancer!!
Supplementation with vitamin D3 reduces overall mortality in older adults!
Vitamin D deficiency is based on a blood level of less than 20 ng/mL of 25-hydroxy vitamin D. It appears that correcting vitamin D levels may be on par with health risks such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity!
Based on calculations from one study, 12.8% of all deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to vitamin D deficiency. So for every 10 ng/ml decline in serum vitamin D, there appears to be a 16% increase in all cause mortality. Supplementing with vitamin D3 decreased all cause mortality by 11%. There appears to be no benefit or protection by supplementing with vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is less potent and active than vitamin D3. It may be that calcium is needed to be used with vitamin D2 to be effective.
You can obtain enough vitamin D by exposure to sunlight (UVB) for 15 minutes a day if you are light skinned. Dark skin requires up to an hour of exposure to create enough daily vitamin D. Our body produces vitamin D in the skin and does so at higher levels in the summer time. Obviously, in the winter time, we are at risk of deficiency due to less skin exposure. Sun block will prevent UVB from reaching our skin and therefore will prevent the skin from creating vitamin D.
Vitamin D toxicity (levels greater than 150 ng/ml) result from high intake of vitamin D (greater than 10,000 units/day)
The bottom line: Get your 600-800 IU of vitamin D3 every day. Vitamin D3 is the best form of vitamin D. Boosting your vitamin D levels can decrease your cardiac and cancer risks!
There are a number of dietary factors that play a role in increasing our risk for cancer. Obesity is one risk factor that increases cancer risk. Others include large amounts of barbecue foods, which increase stomach cancer risk.
Diets high in non-starchy vegetables decrease esophageal cancer risk, such as broccoli, beans, and lettuce.
Decrease processed meat and red meat to less than 18 ounces a week also decreases risk, especially for colorectal cancer.
Foods high in Vitamin C decrease esophageal cancer risk, such as citrus.
Lycopene-containing foods, such as tomatoes, decrease prostate cancer risk.
Pharyngeal and mouth cancer risk can be decreased by a diet high in carrots and squash (carotenoid-containing food).
The goal is a well-balanced diet with multiple selections of healthy foods to decrease risk.
Apples provide 10% of the daily RDA of Vitamin C and fiber if just one is eaten. This increase in fiber intake can decrease one’s weight over time, which decreases body fat and associated cancer risk. An apple has pectin in it, which bacteria in the gut use for food and convert it into substances that protect the colon. Also present are phytochemicals such as epitechin, quercetin,anthocyanin, and triterpenoids. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/apples.html
Soy Foods: have phytochemicals that decrease cancer risk, in particular breast, lung, and colon. the high dietary fiber decreases colon cancer risk. Also present are Isoflavones which are phytoestrogens that play a role in cancer prevention. The particular Isoflavones researched are genistein and daidzein. Soy intake does not increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Soy products may decrease PSA levels and diminish prostate cancer risk. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/soy.html
Green Tea: Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a phytochemical in green tea that may have anti-cancer potential. Green tea intake may lower colon, liver, breast, and prostate cancer risks. Likewise there may be associations with lower bladder cancer risk as well as pancreatic and stomach cancer risk. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/Tea.html
Grapefruits: Red, pink, or whit, a grapefruit gives a person half of their vitamin C needs per day. Vitamin C protects from DNA damage by trapping free radicals that cause cancer. They contain the phytochemicals naringenin and limonin, which decrease the growth of multiple cancers The pink and red varieties of grapefruit have lycopene and carotenoids, which also have anti-cancer effects. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/grapefruit.html
Flaxseed: Has high amounts of magnesium, manganese and thiamin, and fiber. Flaxseed has 7 gm of fiber in 4 table spoons. Also present are high quantities of protein . Lignans, which are plant estrogens, are present in high concentration, while half the fat in flaxseed is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant form of omega-3 fat. These are very healthful items. Of note alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), has shown promise in protecting against heart disease and some cancers. Omega-3 may inhibit the production of prostaglandins, substances that stimulate cancer growth and inflammation, which increase the cancer risk further. There is also a form of vitamin E in flaxseed called gamma-tocopherol. These substances in flaxseed slow the growth and spread of breast cancer. Flaxseed and its oil decrease markers of inflammation, decreased the growth of prostate cancer and also colon cancer. Flaxseed oil provides alpha-linolenic acid and both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, both of which are vitamin E. These substances again decrease inflammation in the body. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/flaxseed.html
Coffee is rich in riboflavin, a B vitamin. It also has a lot of phytochemicals: Chlorogenic acid ( a phenol), quinic acid (a phytochemical that gives coffee it’s acid taste), Cafestol and kahweol, caffeine, and N-methylpyridinium (NMB) (which increases anti-oxidant potencies). Moderate intake of coffee decreases endometrial and liver cancers, as well as colorectal cancer. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/coffee.html
Cherries: High in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Cherries dark color is due to Anthocyanins, which are anti-oxidants. Hydroxycinnamic acid and perillyl alcohol are two phytochemicals that provide anti-oxidant activities in cherries. tart cherries provide more antioxidant activity than sweet cherries. Perillyl alcohol causes the self-destruction of abnormal cells and may inhibit cancer growth. Overall cherries may prevent the growth of several cancers with its antioxidants. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/cherries.html
Grapes and Grape Juice: Are high in reservatrol, a phytochemical that is part of the polyphenol family. This phytochemical has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It slows the growth of cancer cells and prevents damage that triggers the formation of cancer cells. Skin, breast, and leukemic cells appear to be affected by reservatrol. Reservatrol inhibits the formation of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach and breast cells. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/foodsthatfightcancer_grapes_and_grape_juice.html
Garlic belongs to the Allium family and includes onions, scallions, leeks and chives. garlic decreases colon cancer risks, while the others in this family decrease stomach cancer risks. Their anti-cancer effects are, in part, a result of quercetin, allixin and a large group of organosulfur compounds that includes allicin, alliin and allyl sulfides. These substances decrease the growth of cancer in prostate, bladder, colon and stomach tissue. Diallyl disulfide, present in garlic, decreases skin, colon, and lung cancer risk potentially. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/foodsthatfightcancer_garlic.html
Blueberries contain an number of antioxidants and phytochemicals including anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and other flavonoids, Ellagitannins and ellagic acid, and pterostilbene and reservatrol. Blueberries decrease free radical damage to DNA and can thereby decrease cancer risks. Evidence shows that blueberries can decrease the risk of esophageal and breast cancer. Blueberries are excellent sources of fiber,and vitamins C and K. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/blueberries.html
Walnuts contain the omega-3 fat – alpha-linolenic acid. They also contain polyphenols, which are phytochemicals exerting an antioxidant effect. Walnuts have Ellagitannins, gamma-tocopherol, melatonin, and phytosterol, which can lower cholesterol levels. Walnuts have copper and manganese in high abundance. Walnuts may decrease the growth of breast and prostate cancers. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/walnuts.html
Whole Grains: Provide manganese, thiamin, nicain, vitamin B-6 and/or selenium. Included in grains are brown rice, oatmeal, corn, whole-wheat bread, barley, bulgur, kasha, millet, and farro. The parts of whole grains are the fiber-rich bran, nutrient-packed germ and starchy endosperm. Refined grains lack the bran and germ parts. There is fiber present in grains. Lignans ( a polyphenol), saponins, phenolic acids, flavonoids are present and have anti-cancer effects. Also present are alkylresorcinols which are phenolic lipids in the wheat and rye outer parts. Phytic acid, present in legumes like peas and grains as well, exerts anti-cancer effects. The insoluble fiber present in grains does not get digested and is protective against colorectal cancer by speeding stool passage through the gut. The resistant starch present ingrains supports the growth of healthful bacteria in the gut. Three to six ounces of daily whole grains a day is linked to a 20 percent decrease in colorectal cancer! The the more grain you eat, the less risk of colon cancer you have. There are protease inhibitors in grains that may prevent the spread of cancer cells. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/whole-grains.html
Squash: Winter quash, including pumpkins, are rich in carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Beta and alpha-carotenes are antioxidants that promote cell-to-cell communications and control cell growth. Skin cancer may be decreased by high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin. Likewise, higher levels of alpha-carotene are linked to decrease death from esophagus, colon, liver, pancreas, and laryngeal cancers! Of note, lutein and zeaxanthin provide the yellow pigment of squash and help protect our vision. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/squash.html
Brocolli and cruciferous vegetables: These include brussels sprouts, rapini, cabbage (green), cauliflower and turnips (white), kale, and collard greens. High in vitamin C and K, they contain glucosinolates which form isothiocyanates and indoles. These two substances are anti-inflammatory and decrease cancer risks by inactivating enzymes that promote cancer. Red cabbage and radishes provide anthocyanins, a phytochemical. Other crucifers provide polyphenols such as hydroxycynnamic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin. These substances all act to decrease the risk of lung, colorectal, stomach, breast, and prostate cancer. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/broccoli-cruciferous.html
Dry beans and Peas: Kidney and black beans, yellow split peas and red lentils are included in the legumes that provide so much health benefits. They are a rich source of resistant starches, which are used by bacteria in the colon to produce short-chained fatty acids that protect the colon from cancer. Substances contained in this bunch include saponins and lignans and antioxidants from a variety of phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols. These all are cancer inhibiting agents. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/legumes.html
Tomatoes: The red color of tomatoes comes from Lycopene, which has effective activity against prostate cancer. Tomato components have stopped the proliferation of other cancer types in the lab including breast, lung, and endometrial cancer. Processing tomatoes into tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato juice allows more of the lycopenes to be released for better effects. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/foodsthatfightcancer_tomatoes.html
Other possible foods that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects include:
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Medical devices and even cash register receipts have the toxin in it. It can leach into food in plastic containers, especially when they are heated or washed with harsh detergents.
It can affect behavior and also the prostate and reproductive system.
Some BPA-free items still have estrogen-like chemicals in them because they use Bisphenol-S (BPS). You need to find BPA and BPS- free cups or use stainless steel.
Avoid food containers, dishes, and cups with “PC” on them, which is polycarbonate, or have recycling label #7 on them. They will have BPA and BPS in them.
The FDA approved Cologuard (Exact Sciences) to screen average risk adults for colorectal cancer. Age must be over 50. This is a DNA-test performed on a stool sample.
Options for screening for colon cancer include barium enemas, flexible sigmoidoscopy (the doctor uses an instrument to look in the colon under sedation), CT colonoscopy using a CT scan with contrast, or colonoscopy to look for cancers.
Current guidelines recommend that at the age of 50, a colonoscopy be done every 10 years.
The stool DNA test can be used for those who refuse a direct visualization of their colon. The DNA test looks for something called KRAS mutations and NDRG4 and BMP3 methylation, as well as hemoglobin to determine if there is a probability of colon cancer.
The test detected 92% of the cases of colorectal cancer in people without symptoms. It had a fair amount of false positive tests, meaning that it gave a positive result when, in fact, the patient did not have the disease. Obviously, a colonoscopy must be done if the test is positive to look directly at the colon.
The test is done by having the Cologaurd kit sent to your house and providing a stool sample that is shipped back to the company. How convenient!
Again, this is another option to screen for colorectal cancer.
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