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February 27, 2007 > Got vitamin D?

Got vitamin D?

Deficiency Linked To Cancer & Bone Loss -

New research finds winter brings more than the blues. Medical experts say there's a growing health problem in the United States that occurs especially during the winter months. Researchers say as many as two-thirds of Americans lack vitamin D. Since the earth is tilted away from its orbit around the sun during this time of year, people don't get enough vitamin D from the sun to absorb calcium needed for strong bones and general wellness.

"It's a growing epidemic," says Dr. Cedric Garland, professor at University of California, San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. "More than ever, people now need to look at fortified foods for vitamin D."

"But not all vitamin D is created equal," stresses Garland. "Milk is one of the best sources of this vitamin, because it contains vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, the most effective form of vitamin D."

While osteoporosis is a main concern, Garland says vitamin D deficiency also accounts for thousands of premature deaths from colon, breast and ovarian cancers every year. "Primary preventions of these cancers have largely been neglected, but we now have proof that the incidence of colon, breast and ovarian cancers can be reduced dramatically by increasing the public's intake of vitamin D."

The National Cancer Registry reports that one in four Americans dies of cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States. Garland believes the risk of developing colon, breast and ovarian cancers can be reduced by 50 percent if people increase their vitamin D intake. He, along with other researchers, looked at 65 vitamin D studies spanning over 30 years. Their findings have been published in the American Journal of Public Health. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is expected to release a new paper online Feb. 6, 2006 regarding their research. The print version comes out this March.

Garland says his research applies to people of all ages, but is particularly relevant to the baby boom population (8.3 million in California) - those born between 1946 and 1964. Medical experts say baby boomers are at an age when the risk of developing cancer increases tremendously. Plus, Garland says it is more difficult for these adults to absorb and utilize vitamin D. "As people get older, the body's ability to absorb nutrients slows down. So baby boomers need to increase their vitamin D intake."

Garland recommends children and adults expose 50 percent of their bodies to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes daily (without sunscreen) between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The alternative is to take 1000 international units of vitamin D fortified foods - or the equivalent of 10 glasses of milk daily. A combination of other vitamin D fortified foods like cheeses and yogurt are viable alternatives.

For more information on vitamin D, please visit or

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