By Mark Hyman MD
Vitamin D has a huge impact on the health and function of your cells. It reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). That makes vitamin D one of the most potent cancer inhibitors- and explains why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to colon, prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer.
But what’s even more fascinating is how vitamin D regulates and controls genes.
It acts on a cellular docking station called a receptor that then sends messages to our genes. That’s how vitamin D controls so many different functions – from preventing cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting mood, easing muscle aches and fibromyalgia, and building bones.
These are just a few examples of the power of vitamin D. When we don’t get enough it impacts every area of our biology, because it affects the way our cells and genes function. And many of us are deficient for one simple reason. Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight.
In fact, 80 to 100 percent of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun. The sun exposure that makes our skin a bit red (called 1 minimum erythemal dose) produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in our bodies.
The problem is that most of us aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.
Overuse of sunscreen is one reason. While these products help protect against skin cancer – they also block a whopping 97 percent of your body’s vitamin D production.
If you live in a northern climate, you’re not getting enough sun (and therefore vitamin D), especially during the winter. And you’re probably not eating enough of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D: fatty wild fish like mackerel, herring, and cod liver oil.
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