You see Vitamin D everywhere. It’s in multivitamins and sold on grocery shelves, added to milk, discussed on talk shows. If you’ve Prostate Cancer, there are some important facts you should know about Vitamin D. First - even the staunchest supporters of our medical system will agree certain levels are needed for a body to function at optimal health. Second - most men over 50, and especially those with Prostate Cancer, are deficient in Vitamin D. Third - most medical researchers will agree that Vitamin D appears to decrease the risk of death from cancer, and that higher levels of Vitamin D may be linked to lower cancer risk. So what is it, and what does it do? Vitamin D is a group of ‘fat soluble’ secosteroids (This means it’s best taken with a large meal that includes fat!). It’s said that D3 is the most important part of Vitamin D, and the less problematic. Most all agree Vitamin D is responsible for the regulation of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, and zinc.
Many understand its more complex nature, and believe it guides healthy DNA replication, cellular division and is responsible for producing over 200 anti-microbial peptides, thereby reducing cellular mutation, fighting infections and reducing silent inflammation. Since cancer is believed to be caused by mutations in genes that regulate cellular proliferation, and Vitamin D protects against cancer by affecting over 200 genes to regulate important aspects of cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis, you can see the importance of Vitamin D. If fact studies have shown that those deficient in Vitamin D stand a 30% to 50% increased rate of Prostate Cancer.In one study supplementing with D3 to raise Vitamin D blood level saturation above 50 ng/ml cut in half the risk of developing certain cancers, MS, and diabetes. Vitamin D has been used for many health issues including preventing and treating: rickets, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, skin conditions, PMS, autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, autism, cancers, and more.
The human body is an amazing machine. We obviously need Vitamin D to survive, so the body makes its own Vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. It’s said just 6 days of quality sunlight exposure will make up for 49 cloudy days for a ‘healthy young body’ producing Vitamin D. When we’re young, and living in a sunny climate, our skin exposed to sun generally makes all the Vitamin D we need. As we get older we loose many of the skin receptors necessary to make Vitamin D. We also spend less time in the sun because of work and health issues. Many of us live in climates that don’t provide the necessary sunshine. With that said, if you have Prostate Cancer you have a 60% to 70% chance of having inadequate, low levels of Vitamin D.
So what does it all mean for Prostate Cancer? Recent studies have shown the importance of Vitamin D. In a 2012 study supplementation with 4,000iu of D3 per day for one year resulted in a reduction of positive cores upon a repeat biopsy. While the exact mechanism may not be understood the results suggest that the cancer load has been reduced due to the Vitamin D. In a 2011 study it was found that D3 and testosterone work together to have a positive affect on cell proliferation, cell death, and cell motility, thereby affecting prostate cancer progression and therapeutic outcomes. This study suggests that supplementation with D3 may slow or halt the progression of Prostate Cancer.
A laboratory study found that supplementation with D3 may suppress Circulating Prostate Cancer Cell’s ability to adhere and metastasize. If you are on the watch and wait program, this certainly could help you sleep better at night. In another laboratory study it was found that Vitamin D Deficiency stimulates Prostate Cancer growth in bone, whereas more Vitamin D retards its growth.
With supplements of Vitamin D3 so easily available, then why is it so many are deficient in Vitamin D. Possibly because our standard medical profession is great at fixing broken bones, and patching obvious medical issues but when it comes to nutrition, and sustainable health, they are sorely lacking. How many times has you doctor suggested you get a Vitamin D check? It obviously should be a primary test if you are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Now knowing the importance of Vitamin D, you may decide to start supplementation on your own, but here’s the rub. Too much Vitamin D can be Toxic, and there are optimal blood saturation levels to support you cancer healing. Vitamin D overdose can show up as a buildup of calcium in your blood causing loss of appetite, even nausea and vomiting. It can also show up as weakness, frequent urination, and kidney problems. This is why it’s 'so important' to get your doctor involved, get tested, and monitor your Vitamin D on a regular basis.
Start with a doctor ordered 25(OH)D Test (also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D test), it’s more accurate than the 1,25(OH)D test. My original test came back at 32.7 ng/ml, which is considered insufficient… and here I’m dealing with Prostate Cancer. The Vitamin D council has set the following ranges for test results: 0-30 ng/ml = Deficient, 31-39 ng/ml = Insufficient, 40-80 ng/ml = Sufficient, and over 150 = Toxic. The Endocrine Society and the Food and Nutrition Board have lower guidelines while most testing laboratories generally consider 32-100 ng/ml to be in an acceptable range. With baseline test in hand, discuss with your doctor the best amount of D3 supplementation to reach your target goal. Because of my Prostate Cancer we set my target at 70-80ng/ml. I started taking 10,000iu of a high quality D3 per day. (Note: D3 may also be included in other supplements such as fish oil and multivitamins. Be sure to account for all your different sources. Also adjust according to how much time you’re spending soaking up sunshine.) After approximately 2 months my Vitamin D serum level had risen to 53.4 ng/ml. It’s an acceptable level and healthy change, but not yet where I need to be. I reduced my D3 intake to 8,000iu per day and will have it checked again concurrent with my PSA test next month. Thereafter I’ll go on a maintenance dose, probably around 4,000iu to 6,000iu per day with regular tests. Many believe that 4,000iu is the maximum acceptable D3 supplementation without doctor supervision. I believe it’s important to get tested.
Vitamin D is just one more piece of the healing puzzle for Prostate Cancer. Most likely there will not be a magic pill that completely handles the situation, but with all the healing pieces put together there’s tremendous power; and I have to believe I’m a whole lot healthier than when I first stared this journey.