2 years ago
30 July, 2021
Vitamin D is naturally present in some foods (e.g. oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, and egg yolks), added to others (e.g. breakfast cereals and non-dairy milk), and available as a dietary supplement.
But your main source of vitamin D is sunlight. When the sun’s rays interact with the skin, vitamin D synthesis is triggered.
Vitamin D is a nutrient you need for good health. It helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones.
In some studies, vitamin D has been found to slow or prevent the development of breast cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and decreases oestrogen synthesis. It is also important for a properly functioning immune system and may help protect against cancer spreading.
Your vitamin D level depends on several lifestyle habits, e.g. how much time you spend outdoors, what you eat, and what medications you take, but also on your age and skin type.
Most people in the northern hemisphere can make enough from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands, or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen, from late March to the end of September.
During winter and autumn, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make enough.
We recommend you get it from food sources rather than supplements, but if you can’t, consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D (400 IU).
While you can’t get too much vitamin D through sunshine, you can get too much through supplements, leading to health problems. Getting more than 4,000 IU per day (100 micrograms/day) increases the risk of harmful health effects, for example, kidney damage.
Making sure you have healthy levels of vitamin D is important for breast cancer prevention, but also good for your general.
BCUK recommends you be mindful about your levels and if you have any concerns get your levels checked by your GP, so you can determine if you need to take in more vitamin D either through sun exposure or if this isn’t possible through food or supplements.
Check out our Prevention Hub for my breast cancer prevention tips.
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