Tag: sunlight

Cancers and vitamin D deficiency

Cancers and vitamin D deficiency

Does cancer cause lower Vitamin D levels?

Vitamin D deficiency is common in cancer patients (Kennel & Drake, 2013). This observation has been the subject of much scientific investigation.  It is not entirely clear at present if cancer itself causes the body to reduce Vitamin D levels, or  if this is indirectly associated with effects of cancer on the body (Jacobs, Kohler, Kunihiro, & Jurutka, 2016)). As Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight and dietary sources, these factors may be negatively influenced in those afflicted by cancer (e.g., skin cancer patients will be advised to actively avoid significant sun-light exposure (GenoMEL, 2015)). Another factor impacting Vitamin D levels in an individual with cancer are the types and amounts of anti-cancer medicines they are receiving, which may in turn effect how the absorbs, use or stores Vitamin D. Irrespective of the mechanism, it is important for cancer patients to be aware of this tendency towards reduced Vitamin D levels.

Why is Vitamin D important for people with cancer?

Several studies have highlighted a connection between low Vitamin D levels with cancer risk and progression (National Cancer Institute, 2013). Laboratory tests have also demonstrated a link between Vitamin D concentration and so called ‘anti-tumorigenic’ effects – hypothesised due to Vitamin D’s role in cancers gene regulation, as well as preventing the tumour from acquiring a blood supply (angiogenesis) (Holick, 2004) and increasing the rate of cell death (apoptosis). Vitamin D’s role in the possible fight against cancer has also been the target of new medical trials (Thorne & Campbell, 2008).

What typical symptoms may be expected if Vitamin D levels are low?

As well as negative effects on cancer progression, low Vitamin D levels may result in different ailments including general fatigue, bone pain and adverse changes in mental state (thought and mood alteration). As such, these symptoms should be monitored, particularly in patients diagnosed with cancer. A simple blood test will help healthcare professionals determine if Vitamin D levels are related in any way. Where Vitamin D levels are low, a doctor can prescribe dietary supplements to bring levels back into a healthy range.

For additional information on what Vitamin D is and where it can be obtained from please refer to the preceding post: “Vitamin D basics”.

References:

GenoMEL. (2015). GenoMEL: Patient Information. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://genomel.org/info-for-patients/%EF%BF%BCsun-protection-and-vitamin-d-after-a-diagnosis/

Holick, M. F. (2004). Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(3), 362–71. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14985208

Jacobs, E. T., Kohler, L. N., Kunihiro, A. G., & Jurutka, P. W. (2016). Vitamin D and Colorectal, Breast, and Prostate Cancers: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence. Journal of Cancer, 7(3), 232–240. http://doi.org/10.7150/jca.13403

Kennel, K. A., & Drake, M. T. (2013). Vitamin D in the cancer patient. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care, 7(3), 272–277. JOUR. http://doi.org/10.1097/SPC.0b013e3283640f74

National Cancer Institute. (2013). Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/vitamin-d-fact-sheet

Thorne, J., & Campbell, M. J. (2008). The vitamin D receptor in cancer. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(2), 115–27. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665108006964

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Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.

Vitamin D basics

Vitamin D basics

Vitamins are nutrients that are vital to the human body yet cannot be synthesized by it. In this post, we’re going to introduce you to the basics of vitamin D so that you can find the future posts addressing its relationship with cancer enjoyable and easier to read.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins and can only be obtained by either getting exposed to sunlight, eating certain foods, or taking supplements. Generally speaking, vitamin D exists in two forms inside the human body: the storage form (25OHD) and the active form (1,25OHD). Physicians usually order lab tests that measure the level of these forms in order to identify vitamin D abnormalities (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Holick, et al., 2011).

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays various roles inside the human body: It helps strengthening the bones, regulating blood calcium, and has been under investigations for years for possible cancer and diabetes risk reducing effects (Holick, et al., 2011). It also has hormonal-like functions at the level of nucleus and genes (i.e. affecting cell growth, muscle strength and size gains, & reducing inflammation) (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Dorfman, 2017).

How much is enough/too much?

It’s not surprising that vitamin D’s requirements (i.e. recommended daily allowances (RDA)) vary according to age, sex and stages like pregnancy and lactation. Interestingly, vitamin D can also cause toxicity if taken in huge amounts so a level called tolerable upper limit (TUL) has been set in order to help prevent that. For more information please check the following table. (Mahan & Raymond, 2017)

Section1 req

Tips & tricks:

– Sun exposure is the best source for vitamin D. It can supply people with a huge amount that can last them for an extended period of time (i.e. those adequately exposed in summer get enough stores that can last them through the winter). (Mahan & Raymond, 2017).

– For the best results, ditch the sunscreens and expose at least your arms and legs to sunlight directly (i.e. not through glass) for the duration that results in your skin turning slightly pink after 24 hours (Dark-skinned individuals need 3-5 times the duration needed by fair-skinned ones). Vitamin D synthesis is maximum between 11:00am and 3:00pm in the summer and people generally need 2-3 days of exposure per week. (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Holick, et al., 2011).

– Some apps can help time the exposure correctly (i.e. Vitamin D calculator, D-minder, & Vitamin D pro). (Mahan & Raymond, 2017).

– For vitamin D content of various sources please check the following table:

Sources

References and attributions:

Dorfman, L., 2017. Nutrition in Exercise and Sports Performance. In: L. K. Mahan & J. L. Raymond, eds. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 14th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier.

Holick, M. F. et al., 2011. Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(7), p. 1911–1930.

Holick, M. F. et al., 2011. Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(7), pp. 1915 & 1917, TABLES 1 & 3.

Mahan, L. K. & Raymond, J. L., 2017. APPENDIX 45: Nutritional Facts on Vitamin D. In: L. K. Mahan & J. L. Raymond, eds. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 14th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier.

OpenStax, 2014. “Figure 1. Sunlight is one source of vitamin D” licensed by Rice University under a Creative Commons Attribution License (by 3.0). It got slightly edited and is used by our post as its featured image. It can be found here: http://cnx.org/contents/FPtK1zmh@6.27:g-vsB2Y2@4/Exercise-Nutrition-Hormones-an.

More readings and links:

https://medlineplus.gov/vitamind.html

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/vitamin-d

https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-Vitamin-D.aspx

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/vitamin-d-calculator/id484286798?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ontometrics.dminder&hl=en_GB

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/d-minder-pro/id547102495?mt=8

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Please leave a comment below if you have any questions and subscribe to get notified about new posts.

Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.