Have you had your vitamin D level checked lately? If you have been to your primary care doctor in the last year or so, you probably have.
If not, you might decide to have it checked after reading this article, especially if you have a family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps in the colon.
Colon cancer is the second most common form of cancer death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet a simple lab test to make sure you have enough vitamin D in your body can help reduce the risk of getting it.
Vitamin D was mislabeled as a vitamin. It is actually a pro-hormone (hormone with small amounts of activity in the body) which makes it a powerful and active substance in the body.
While vitamins are essential in small quantities to regulate cells' energy, they do not provide energy or act as building blocks for the cells. Hormones are signals that act on cells, usually stimulating action in a cell.
Vitamin D helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to strengthen the teeth and bones. Vitamin D has been shown to boost the immune system’s defense against tumor cells.
Research has linked vitamin D deficiency with increased rates of heart disease, depression and weight gain. It's also been linked with certain types of cancer like breast, colon, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
Vitamin D comes in multiple forms. Two major forms are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
Vitamin D2 is the form found in plants. Vitamin D3 gets activated from our skins exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Both of these forms must be modified in the liver and kidneys to achieve its final activated form.
Research suggests that vitamin D activate T lymphocyte cells which are responsible for identifying and killing cancer cells.
"People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer," said lead researcher Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health, according to WebMD.
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Reviewed March 12, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith