An apple a day might keep the doctor away - but vitamin D supplements have been linked to benefits ranging from strong bones to weight loss. Now a new study is showing a link between vitamin D supplementation and lower breast cancer mortality, reported MPR on March 14.
Conducted at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of five studies to evaluate how vitamin D affected mortality from breast cancer. They discovered a correlation between higher levels of vitamin D and lower mortality from breast cancer.
Researchers concluded that women with high levels of vitamin D in their blood when diagnosed with breast cancer are almost twice as likely to survive as those with low levels.
"Doctors should emphasize the importance of maintaining adequate serum vitamin D levels, which would be 40 to 60 ng/mL for cancer prevention, and encourage their patients to have their vitamin D status regularly checked, especially in winter, to ensure that adequate serum levels are being maintained," said author Sharif B. Mohr, MD, from the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego.
And that's not the only benefit to supplementing with vitamin D. Another new study showed that vitamin D appears to reduce levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reported the New York Times recently.
Women in that study took either a daily dose of 400 units of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or a placebo. At the end of the three-year study, the vitamin D group had significantly higher serum levels of vitamin D, and a small but notable drop in LDL.
Vitamin D also has been shown to help build stronger bones, according to the National Institutes of Health. It enables normal mineralization of bone and helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. It also plays a role in neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation.
In addition, vitamin D can boost your weight loss goals: Receptors in your brain use vitamin D to curb your appetite and boost your serotonin levels, according to Women's Health magazine. It also helps your body to absorb calcium, which impacts the fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that converts calories into fat.
How to get enough vitamin D: Because only a few foods contain vitamin D, supplements generally are recommended. For all ages, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting between 600 and 800 IU per day, and Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends 1000 IU.
Where to find and how to take: Look for vitamin D in health food stores and online. Options include soft gels, such as Nutrigold Vitamin D3 Mini Softgels; gummy candies, such as Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins and chews combined with calcium, such as Viactiv Calcium +D Supplement Soft Chews.