New research for a wide variety of serious diseases confirms that Canadians need much higher vitamin D levels and UV sun exposure than previously thought. As part of November Vitamin D Awareness Month, the Vitamin D Society wants to ensure Canadians are aware of this new research and the positive benefits that optimal vitamin D levels and sun exposure will have on their health.
Breast Cancer: Women with vitamin D blood levels above 150 nmol/L had an 82% lower incidence of breast cancer compared to women with levels <50 nmol/L. (McDonnell 2018)
Colorectal Cancer: Participants with vitamin D blood levels below 30 nmol/L had a 31% higher risk of colorectal cancer and people with vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L had a 27% reduced risk of colorectal cancer. (McCullough 2018)
Diabetes: Adults with vitamin D blood levels above 125 nmol/L had an 81% reduced risk of diabetes and prediabetes compared to adults with levels below 75 nmol/L. (Park 2018)
Multiple Sclerosis: Living in high (vs low) UVB areas before MS onset was associated with a 45% lower MS risk. (Tremlett 2018)
Pregnancy: Women with vitamin D blood levels below 100 nmol/L had a 62% lower risk of preterm birth. (McDonnell 2017)
Cognitive Function: Long-term high sun exposure is positively related with better cognitive functioning. (Gao 2018)
What this research clearly shows is that people need more moderate sun exposure and higher vitamin D levels. There are important health benefits to maintaining your vitamin D blood level (or 25(OH)D level), above 100 nmol/L. Statistics Canada reports that 93% of Canadians fail to achieve this level. For the past 10 years, an expert panel of 48 vitamin D scientists, researchers and doctors behind the D*action advocacy campaign have recommended that people of all ages achieve a vitamin D blood level of between 100-150 nmol/L.
How does vitamin D affect so many different diseases? Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but is a potent steroid hormone that tells your genes what to do. If you have low vitamin D, these important DNA communication processes have a higher chance of failure.
The Vitamin D Society has created a short video to help Canadians develop a vitamin D winter action plan. The plan includes how and where to make or get vitamin D – sunlight (UVB) or surrogate, food sources, or supplement.
Adults need a vitamin D intake of approximately 4,000 IU/day to replace the vitamin D that is used daily by their bodies.
Vitamin D3 supplements are a good source of vitamin D, but they do not provide all of the additional photoproducts created from UV exposure. People with malabsorption issues such as Crohn’s disease or kidney disease may not get the required vitamin D from supplements or food through the digestive system.
The only way to know for sure if you are getting enough vitamin D is to have your 25(OH)D blood levels tested. You can request the 25(OH)D test through your physician (a fee may apply), or purchase a home test kit online. Please make sure your test score is in the range between 100-150 nmol/L (40-60 ng/ml USA).