Vitamin D and omega-3s offer protection from cancer and cardiovascular disease
(NaturalHealth365) Heart disease and cancer are now the leading causes of mortality in the United States. Together, these two deadly diseases are responsible for over 1.2 million deaths a year – a tragic toll, and one which experts say is largely preventable. Recent research demonstrates the potential of natural nutrients – vitamin D, along with a pair of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil – to help stem this deadly tide.
As natural health experts have long insisted, these two non-toxic nutrients can help prevent the development of heart disease and cancer, thereby sparing countless lives. Unfortunately, experts estimate that up to 40 percent of Americans may have insufficient levels.
Vitamin D helps to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions
Vitamin D, which is created in the skin in response to direct sunlight, helps to maintain the structure and function of bones and teeth. In fact, this crucial, fat-soluble nutrient is involved with every aspect of human health – and is a particular boon to the immune system, promoting the activity of natural killer cells and strengthening the immune response.
In addition to helping fend off respiratory infections, influenza and a variety of other diseases, optimal levels of the “sunshine vitamin” can relieve chronic inflammation – making it of premier importance in preventing and easing autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis.
And, as the latest studies reveal, the “right” nutrition can effectively prevent heart disease and cancer as well. It should be noted: while a recent clinical trial showed less-than-impressive results from vitamin D and omega-3s, proponents point out that dosages used were too small to be of benefit.
The fact is: when a proper amount is consumed, the results are powerful indeed.
Peer-reviewed research attests: The right nutrition does dramatically decrease the risk of cancer
Studies have shown that women who are deficient in the D have a greater risk of developing breast cancer – while optimal levels can reduce risk. In a study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies, researchers even arrived at a formula for determining the reduced risk that accompanies optimal vitamin D levels.
The team reported that a 12 percent decrease in breast cancer mortality occurs for every 8 ng/mL increase in blood vitamin D levels. A relationship also exists between vitamin D levels and other forms of cancer.
In one study, researchers found that low levels of D caused the risk of colon cancer to soar by 253 percent. In a separate study, patients with advanced colorectal cancer who received 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D experienced better outcomes and increased survival compared to those receiving a small dosage.
Finally, researchers have found that D vitamin levels of 55 ng/mL and above cause overall cancer risk to plummet by 35 percent.
Vitamin D protects against heart disease across the board
Generally speaking, lower D vitamin levels are associated with classic risk factors for heart disease – such as high blood pressure, atherosclerotic plaque and arterial stiffness.
Other studies have shown an increase in fatal strokes (which often result from cardiovascular disease) accompanying every decrease in vitamin D3 levels.
And, while vitamin D deficits are detrimental to heart health, optimal levels offer powerful benefits. In one study, 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day increased beneficial arterial flexibility.
And vitamin D even strikes an indirect blow at heart disease by regulating blood sugar and helping to prevent type 2 diabetes. (Having diabetes raises the risk of heart disease, fatal heart attacks and strokes).
Alert: omega-3 fatty acids can reduce risk of heart attack by up to 70 percent
Omega-3 fatty acids – a beneficial type of fat found in nuts, olives, avocado, and cold-water fatty fish – have been receiving a lot of attention for their health benefits (which include reducing inflammation and improving cognitive health).
Two fatty acids in particular, EPA and DHA, help to give fish oil its therapeutic power – and have been studied extensively in conjunction with vitamin D. Higher levels of omega-3s are associated with protection from cardiovascular disease – and the relationship is dose-dependent, meaning: the higher the levels, the more powerful the protection.
In a study published in Atherosclerosis, researchers found that participants with optimal levels of omega-3s (defined as 8 percent or higher) enjoyed a reduced risk of death from heart disease. Another study showed omega-3s improved lipid profiles and reduced blood levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
In fact, in one study, a daily dosage of 930 mg of EPA and 750 mg of DHA reduced risk of heart attack by a startling 70 percent. And, how about this: individuals with the highest omega-3 blood levels are 50 percent less likely to experience congestive heart failure than those with low levels.
As if this weren’t impressive enough, omega-3s appear to be anti-cancer – capable of reducing cancer-causing cell mutations and slowing the growth of existing tumors. Clearly, omega-3s can be a “game-changer” when it comes to health.
Researchers estimate that every 200 mg increase of fish oil intake a day is accompanied by a 7 percent reduced risk of dying from any cause. Quite a bonus – if your health plan includes staying alive!
Protect vitamin D levels with proper nutrition and adequate exposure to sunlight
Vitamin D levels under 20 ng/mL are considered a deficiency, with “healthy” levels considered to exist at 40 ng/mL and higher. But, for protection against heart disease and cancer, most integrative doctors advise levels of 50 to 80 ng/mL.
Exposure to sunlight, time of year, geographical location, state of health, body mass and use of sunscreen can all affect vitamin D levels, and supplementation may be necessary in order to maintain adequate levels.
While the Office of Dietary Supplements advises a daily requirement of 600 IU of vitamin D a day, most integrative doctors say that – for many – this amount is way too low.
Natural health experts generally advise from 5,000 IU to 8,000 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg to 2,400 mg of EPA/DHA from fish oil a day. Just don’t forget: vitamin D should be taken in the form of biologically available vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol.
Naturally, we suggest you talk to your trusted healthcare provider before supplementing with vitamin D.
Please note: magnesium, vitamin K2 and CoQ10 are also important players in heart health. Ask your doctor to advise you on the appropriate amount to take with vitamin D3.
And, yes, you can ramp up your dietary intake of vitamin D with wild-caught salmon, sardines, organic mushrooms and cage-free egg yolks – and boost production in the body with 20 minutes of direct sunlight several times a week.
The indisputable fact is: when intake of vitamin D and omega-3s increases, the incidence of degenerative conditions and premature death drops. Clearly, these natural compounds are indispensable allies that can help confer protection from life-threatening diseases.
Sources for this article include:
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