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While sunlight can provide it in abundance, exposure to the sun is typically not sufficient to supplying a critical vitamin our bodies require. Taken on a daily basis, one very important supplement can prevent a number of diseases: vitamin D.

Are you and your loved ones taking it?

Vitamin D has many cancer fighting mechanisms, including:

  • promoting cancer cell death, and
  • stopping the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumor growth.

A recent study found breast cancer patients who have higher vitamin D levels (of 30 ng/dl) were twice as likely to survive cancer than women with lower levels of vitamin D (17 ng/dl).  Prior research also showed that vitamin D levels of at least 50 ng/dl are associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

Recent research shows that taking vitamin D along with calcium can reduce cholesterol in post-menopausal women, although new research also has found older women may develop significant health risks by taking too much calcium.

One reason this can happen is that many calcium supplements do not contain magnesium.  Magnesium is an important mineral needed for calcium absorption and transporting calcium throughout the body. A good rule of thumb is to take more magnesium than calcium, but not more calcium than magnesium. Based on the results of this recent study, we recommend that patients continue consuming healthy foods rich in both magnesium and calcium (greens, nuts, dark chocolate and cacao powder) and take no more than 500 milligrams of calcium with 500 milligrams of magnesium a day in supplement form.

Vitamin D deficiency also has been associated with autism. Vitamin D activates three very important brain chemicals that affect brain structure and brain wiring, which impact social behavior.


How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Taking?

Most health experts agree your vitamin D level should be between 50 to 80 ng/dl. To get your vitamin D into this ideal range, most people need to take Vitamin D3 as recommended below:

  • 1,000 to 5,000 IU each day for children,
  • 5,000 IU each day for teenagers, and
  • 5,000 to 10,000 IU each day for adults. 

We recommend that you ask your medical doctor to test your vitamin D levels on routine blood tests to ensure you are taking the right amount of vitamin D to be in the ideal range.

Besides supplementation, the best and least expensive source of vitamin D is from sun exposure. Although we can only get it from the sun in certain months of the year, there is a way to get vitamin D from the sun safely. If you choose to get vitamin D from the sun during the summer, it is important to follow these guidelines for safe sun exposure:

In Chicago, we can only get vitamin D from the sun from late April through early September, from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Get out in the sun with exposed arms, legs, etc., without sunscreen for about half the time it takes for your skin to burn. After you get enough exposure without burning, apply sunscreen if you are going to be in the sun for a longer period of time. If you have a history or family history of skin cancer, protect your skin at all times and take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins that can prevent breast cancer, maintain normal cholesterol and prevent autism, as well as treat and prevent many other diseases. If you are not taking vitamin D, it is very important you begin doing so for health promotion and disease prevention.