– Part III –
In Part II we looked at how Vit-D benefits the central functions of our body. In this section we continue with the benefits of Vit-D as suggested by on-going research.
Vitamin D and Specific Functions
There are also new areas of study that consider the role of Vit-D. These areas include inflammation, nerves, muscle strength, testosterone and heart issues.
Meta-analysis provides evidence that vitamin D supplementation may reduce chronic low-grade inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. 28
Research indicates that Vit-D may help protect neural health by supporting immune function, nerve conduction, regulating calcium in the nerves and antioxidant defense.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and involving more than 7 million U.S. military personnel indicates that high circulating levels of Vit-D were associated with improved nerve health. 29 A similar finding was reported in a study involving women from the Nurses’ Health Study who were supplementing with 400 IU or more per day. 30
Vit-D plays a role in promoting muscle strength and integrity in men of all ages. Due to its direct impact on muscle cells, Vit-D has demonstrated an ability to improve muscle remodeling as well as muscle strength and gain.
Improved muscle quality in elderly and fiber type morphology in young were observed. This indicates an effect of Vit-D on skeletal muscle remodeling. 31
Another cross-sectional study involving 1015 adolescents aged 12 to 15 years suggests that Vit-D has a role in muscle function in adolescent males. 32
Men deficient in Vit-D may also experience increased testosterone levels after supplementation.
A higher level of D3 was associated with higher testosterone levels in Korean men. This relationship held after adjusting for season, body, age, composition, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, and chronic disease. 33
A publication titled “Vitamin D Correlation with Testosterone Concentration in US Army Special Operations Personnel” highlights a linear relationship with testosterone concentrations and Vit-D deficiency.34 Vit-D deficiency may limit testosterone synthesis and potentially limit human performance.
Vitamin D and Cancer Risk
There is growing evidence that Vit-D could help protect against various types of cancer. Data suggests there may be a link between either supplementing with Vit-D or having higher levels of Vit-D serum levels and lower incidence of cancer in various parts of the body. W.B. Grant reported that at least 13 cancers were reduced by adequate exposure to solar UVB radiation.35 He also estimated that over 50,000 Americans die prematurely of cancer each year due to Vit-D deficiency. We must keep in mind that the cause of cancer may not always be due to Vit-D deficiency and there are a range of opinions on this subject. It may be that the cancer is limiting the body’s ability to produce and absorb Vit-D. Nonetheless, having adequate amounts of Vit-D is still crucial for the immune system to function properly.
Breast Cancer Prevention or Treatment
Vit-D supplementation may help reduce the risk for breast cancer. Breast cells have receptors for Vit-D. This raises the possibility that the nutrient could help regulate the division and proliferation of breast cells.
It has been shown that women who were taking at least 400 IU of Vit-D per day were at 24 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.36
Vit-D deficiency had a negative effect on overall and disease-free survival in breast cancer cases, being related to tumor size, stage, grade, nodal status and HER2/neu receptor expression. The HER2/neu receptor has been shown to play an important role in the development and progression of certain aggressive types of breast cancer.37
Epidemiologists mapping the incidence of colon cancer in the 1970s observed a curious pattern. People in the South were half as likely to die of colon cancer than those in the Northeast. Perhaps this is related to sunshine and Vit-D production.
A meta-analysis including 1822 colon and 868 rectal cancers reported an association of low Vit-D levels and both cancers.38
Five studies of Vit-D serum levels in association with colorectal cancer risk were identified using PubMed. A 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer was associated with a serum level greater than 33 ng/mL when compared to less than 12 ng/mL. The evidence to date suggests that daily intake of 1000-2000 IU per day could reduce the incidence of colorectal with minimal risk.39
Dr. Mazda Jenab of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, reported that among 1248 people who developed colorectal cancer and an equal number who did not, those with the highest levels of Vit-D in their blood had a nearly 40 percent reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those with the lowest levels.40
A study led by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard universities indicates that consumption of Vit-D tablets can cut the risk of pancreatic cancer by 40 percent.41 The study examined data from two large, long-term health surveys and found that taking 400 IU of Vit-D per day reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 43 percent. Those who consumed less than 150 IU per day experienced a 22 percent reduced risk of cancer.
A recent study done in December 2017 suggests that a Vit-D receptor, Taq I polymorphism, might be a risk factor of prostate cancer risk, especially in Asians.42
A February 2018 study highlights the importance of Vit-D-Binding-Protein in ovarian tumor progression and the potential application of this protein as a therapeutic target for epithelial ovarian cancer.43
A February 2018 study concluded that ambient UVB radiation is inversely associated with the development of oesophageal and gastric cancer, even in a high latitude country.44 Perhaps the ubiquitous Vit-D hormone has a role to place here as well.
Another February 2018 study concludes that high levels of Vit-D serum level were associated with decreased thyroid cancer risk.45
The list goes on but we will stop here. Vit-D may have a key role to play in cancer prevention and treatment. The research metrics look especially promising for colon and pancreatic cancer. It certainly has an important role to play in the immune system. Do you want to learn more about Vit-D and specific areas of health? Vitamin D Wiki is a useful resource for isolating Vit-D as a treatment or its deficiency and observing how it is associated with various ailments.
In Part I we explained that Vit-D is a fat-soluble nutrient that interacts with the vast majority of the body’s cells. Despite the sun being the major natural source of Vit-D, experts agree that Vit-D deficiency is common among Americans. The amount of sunlight exposure, quality of sunlight, sun blocking and filtering agents, biological ability to produce Vit-D and body fat dilution all contribute to Vit-D deficiency. D3 is recommended over D2 because D3 is used more effectively in the body. 2,000 to 10,000 IU of Vit-D per day is recommended to raise and maintain healthy serum levels.
In Part II we explored the relationship between Vit-D and the immune system, cell function, cognitive function, mental health, cardiovascular health, bones, and longevity. These areas cover much of the our potential health concerns and continue to be heavily researched.
In this section we looked at the link between Vit-D and more specific health areas. These include include inflammation, nerves, muscle strength, testosterone and heart issues. We also considered Vit-D and an effective means of treating and preventing various cancers. It was observed that Vit-D may be of special interest when it comes to colorectal and pancreatic cancer.
With so much research and data for Vit-D, we are introduced to a puzzle that may be too big for us to solve right now. It may even be counter-productive in terms of understanding Vit-D’s ability to treat specific diseases. There are many variables and interactions that needs to be accounted for. The effects of a given disease or poor function system on the body will affect other systems as well. However, what is not lost is the holistic value of Vit-D on our overall health.
Since many Americans are deficient in Vit-D and there is little risk of Vit-D toxicity, it makes perfect sense to supplement with it because it bolsters our bodies defenses and checks off many boxes when to comes to determining what may be the underlying cause of a disease.
Vit-D contributes greatly to the proper functioning of our body. It helps protect us from foreign threats, and also from our own immune system. It makes us think and remember more clearly. It lets us age and feel better. With the recommended dose of 2000 IU per day there is virtually no risk or downside. Adding Vit-D, by way of our ADK Supplement, to the Zen Haus Nutritional Support System was an easy choice. We hope you will consider making Vit-D your ally as you strive for longevity with continued mental and physical health.
Read our ADK Synergies post on the synergies and overlapping benefits of Vitamins A, D and K. This will give a better understanding of why we combined them and how they are more effective together.
28) Mousa, A., Naderpoor, N., Teede, H., Scragg, R., de Courten, B. (2018). Vitamin D supplementation for improvement of chronic low-grade inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nux077
29) Munger, K.L., Levin, L.I., Hollis, B.W., Howard, N.S., Ascherio, A. (2006). Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(23), 2832–2838. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.296.23.2832
30) Munger, K.L., Zhang, S.M., O’Reilly, E., Hernán, M. A., Olek, M.J., Willett, W.C., Ascherio, A. (2004). Vitamin D intake and incidence of multiple sclerosis. Neurology, 62(1), 60-65. https://doi.org/10.1212/01.WNL.0000101723.79681.38
31) Agergaard, J., Trøstrup, J., Uth, J., Iversen, J. V., Boesen, A., Andersen, J. L., … Langberg, H. (2015). Does vitamin-D intake during resistance training improve the skeletal muscle hypertrophic and strength response in young and elderly men? – a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition & Metabolism, 12, 32. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-015-0029-y
32) Carson, E. L., Pourshahidi, L. K., Hill, T. R., Cashman, K. D., Strain, J. J., Boreham, C. A., Mulhern, M. S. (2015). Vitamin D, Muscle Function, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Adolescents From the Young Hearts Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 100(12), 4621–4628. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2015-2956
33) Tak, Y. J., Lee, J. G., Kim, Y. J., Park, N. C., Kim, S. S., Lee, S., … Yi, Y. H. (2015). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and testosterone deficiency in middle-aged Korean men: a cross-sectional study. Asian Journal of Andrology, 17(2), 324–328. https://doi.org/10.4103/1008-682X.142137
34) Wentz, L., Berry-Caban, C.B., Eldred, J.D., Wu, Q. (2015). Vitamin D Correlation with Testosterone Concentration in US Army Special Operations Personnel. Conference: Experimental Biology. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282979095_Vitamin_D_Correlation_with_Testosterone_Concentration_in_US_Army_Special_Operations_Personnel
35) Grant, W. B. (2006). Lower vitamin-D production from solar ultraviolet-B irradiance may explain some differences in cancer survival rates. Journal of the National Medical Association, 98(3), 357–364.
36) Anderson, L.N., Cotterchio, M., Vieth, R., Knight, J.A. (2010). Vitamin D and calcium intakes and breast cancer risk in pre- and postmenopausal women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(6), 1699–1707. https://doi.org/10.22034/APJCP.2018.19.2.571
37) Ismail, A., El Awady, R., Abdelsalam, G., Hussein, M., Ramadan, S. (2018). Prognostic Significance of Serum Vitamin D Levels in Egyptian Females with Breast Cancer. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 19(2), 571-576. https://doi.org/10.22034/APJCP.2018.19.2.571
38) Lee, J. E., Li, H., Chan, A. T., Hollis, B. W., Lee, I.-M., Stampfer, M. J., … Ma, J. (2011). Circulating levels of vitamin D and colon and rectal cancer: the Physicians’ Health Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Cancer Prevention Research, 4(5), 735–743. https://doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0289
39) Gorham, E.D., Garland, C.F., Garland, F.C., Grant, W.B., Mohr, S.B., Lipkin, M., … Holick, M.F. (2007). Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(3), 210-216. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2006.11.004
40) Jenab, M., Bueno-de-Mesquita, H.B., Ferrari, P., van Duijnhoven, F.J.B, Norat, T., Pischon, T., … Riboli, E. (2010). Association between pre-diagnostic circulating vitamin D concentration and risk of colorectal cancer in European populations:a nested case-control study. The British Medical Journal, 340, b5500. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b5500
41) Skinner, H.G., Michaud, D.S., Giovannucci, E., Willett, W.C., Colditz, G.A., Fuchs, C.S. (2006). Vitamin D Intake and the Risk for Pancreatic Cancer in Two Cohort Studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers, 15(9), 1688-1695. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0206
42) Kang, S., Zhao, Y., Wang, L., Liu, J., Chen, X., Liu, X., … Cao, F. (2018). Vitamin D receptor Taq I polymorphism and the risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Oncotarget, 9, 7136-7147. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23606
43) Huang, Y.F., Wu, Y.H., Cheng, W.F., Peng, S.L., Shen, W.L., Chou, C.Y. (2018). Vitamin D-Binding Protein Enhances Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Progression by Regulating the Insulin-like Growth Factor-1/Akt Pathway and Vitamin D Receptor Transcription. Clinical Cancer Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-2943
44) O’Sullivan, F., van Geffen, J., van Weele, M., Zgaga, L. (2018). Annual Ambient UVB at Wavelengths that Induce Vitamin D Synthesis is Associated with Reduced Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer Risk: a Nested Case-Control Study. Photochem Photobiol. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/php.12915
45) Hu, MJ., Zhang, Q., Liang, L., Wang, S.Y., Zheng, X.C., Zhou, M.M., … Huang, F. (2018). Journal of Endocrinological Investigation. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40618-018-0853-9
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