It’s called the “sunshine vitamin.” It is the subject of a vast flurry of medical studies over the past several decades. No one nutrient has been tied to more health benefits and protection from disease than vitamin D. In this multi-part study, I talk about how it works, the risks of deficiency, and its impact on three cancers in particular.
First, in this part, let’s do a bit of an introduction to the topic. Many decades ago, a U.S. researcher made a very important observation. People living in more northern states had a higher greater risk of cancer deaths compared to those in southern states. Later, in the 1980s, scientists found higher breast and colon cancer risks among those living in northern states.
They proposed the idea that vitamin D could be responsible for this apparent link between the sun’s UV rays and the risk of both colon cancer and breast cancer. Since it is well known that people living more north are prone to having vitamin-D deficiency, there has been a lot of research in the past decade about vitamin-D deficiency, cancer risk, and lack of sunlight.
How the Sunshine Vitamin Works:
Vitamin D is absorbed and used as part of what’s called the “endocrine system.” Here is what happens:
1. UV light from the sun converts molecules in your skin into vitamin D3. We also get vitamin D3 from a few foods, but the skin provides over 90% of our daily requirement.
2. Vitamin D3 heads to the liver, where it’s turned into an active form. This transformed vitamin D then goes and circulates in the blood. But it’s not active enough, so your kidney soaks it up and transforms it again into the most active form of vitamin D.
3. This form maintains the balance of calcium in your body. It helps the body digest calcium, and also moves it from your bones when there isn’t enough in the blood.
4. Aside from that main role, vitamin D helps cells grow, keeps immune cells healthy, stimulates the release of insulin, and keeps blood pressure normal.
Want to find out the best method of taking vitamin D? Read the article, How to Best Absorb This Important Vitamin.