Vitamin D – you are almost certainly not getting enough

  • 28 Feb 2009
  • Reading time 17 mins
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Most people in Britain are short on vitamin D for at least six months of the year, putting them at increased risk of infections, cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin D campaigner Oliver Gillie is highly critical of the SunSmart advice put out by Cancer Research UK that encourages people to stay out of the sun and use sun screens. “That program has probably caused many more deaths from cancer than it has prevented,” claims Gillie. “It may also be partly responsible for apparent increases in chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.” [1] I agree with him. As every year passes there’s more and more evidence that, if you live in Northern Europe, you won’t get enough. Long considered far less interesting than its multi-tasking fellows like vitamin C - vital only for building healthy bones - this is one ugly duckling that is rapidly transforming into a supplement swan.

Reducing breast, prostate and colon cancer risk
One of the first studies to get people’s attention was that of Hypponnen, showing that more than 87% of people have a blood level below the optimum (75nmol/l)  - that associated with significantly reduced cancer risk, for example,  [2] and many health experts agree with this.  Robert Heaney, professor of Medicine at Creighton University, Omaha, is an example, called for an “immediate improvement in vitamin D status of the general population”, on the grounds that this would reduce the risk of bone fractures caused by osteoporosis, as well as protecting against “various cancers and autoimmune disorders.” [3]

Meanwhile two other studies recently claimed that if we all got adequate amounts of this vitamin it would be possible to cut rates of breast, prostate and colon cancer by over 50%[4] . A study in the British Medical Journal, the largest of its kind to date, shows that those in the highest fifth of vitamin D levels have a 40% reduced risk of colo-rectal cancer. The study involved over half a million participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Study (EPIC), and during the study 1,248 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Those in the top fifth of blood ......

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