Posts Tagged Sunlight
by: Elizabeth Renter
August 7, 2012
Scientists have found a promising link between vitamin D and breast cancer, with the vitamin shown to reduce breast cancer risk. However, they say their findings only apply to vitamin D in supplement form, according to Reuters.
Link Shown Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk Reduction
Researchers found that women who consumed vitamin D in a pill had a 24 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. But those who got their vitamin D in their food didn’t see the same results. While they don’t say why they think this is, it could be because those using supplements are simply getting more of the vitamin on a daily basis.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at 3,101 breast cancer patients and 3,471 health women, analyzing their diet and supplementation habits. There was no link established between dietary vitamin D consumption (or calcium consumption) and breast cancer. The link was only obvious in women taking more than 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day.
The researchers say more work is needed to determine exactly how much vitamin D is needed and to determine how it works. However, we do know that breast tissue cells have receptors for vitamin D, “raising the possibility that the nutrient could help regulate the division and proliferation of these cells.” And while the researchers don’t draw a connection between vitamin D and breast cancer when the vitamin comes from food sources, including the vitamin in a diet for breast cancer patients via foods naturally rich in vitamin D in addition to supplementation will only boost prevention.
Interestingly, the research gives no attention to getting vitamin D from the sun. It’s estimated that the body of the average light-skinned person creates about 20,000 IU of vitamin D3 (the most concentrated form) after one 30-minute, total body exposure to the summer sun at noon. In a darker skin person, the amount of D3 produced is about 10,000 IU.
You don’t need to sunbathe for hours to accumulate vitamin D, but getting outside for some sunshine during the day will increase the body’s natural creation of vitamin D, providing a wealth of vitamin D health benefits that could even reduce your risk of cancer.
by: Sayer Ji
July 9, 2012
The ongoing battle of the bulge, while once considered primarily a matter of vanity, may actually be one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dying from a multitude of causes (i.e. all-cause mortality), but especially heart attack.
Some studies have even revealed that abdominal obesity, known clinically as central obesity, and which is measured by the hip-to-waist ratio, may be more important than blood lipids, i.e. “cholesterol,” in determining heart attack risk. 
So, with this in mind, the following 6 “diet tips,” take on even greater relevance to your overall health.
- Coconut Oil – Two human studies now exist showing that dietary coconut is safe and effective in reducing midsection fat in both women and men. In the women’s study, the treatment group received two tablespoons of coconut oil (30 ml), daily, over a period of 12 weeks, resulting in both a reduction in waist circumference, as well as a boost in their “good” HDL cholesterol levels.  In the male study, obese men received two tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day, taken in 3 divided doses, half an hour before each meal, for one month. The men experienced an average of over one inch (2.86 cm) reduction in their waist circumference, with no changes in their blood lipids. You can read the full study here.
- Green Tea – Green tea has been called “the medicine which grew into a beverage.” Indeed, our project has identified research on over 200 health conditions that may benefit from its use, with obesity on top of the list. In a 2009 study published in the journal Obesity, the consumption of catechin-rich green tea was found to be safe and effective in reducing weight in moderately overweight subjects, including an over two inch reduction in their waist circumference.
- Sunlight – A 2011 study in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology revealed a remarkable fact of metabolism: The exposure of human skin to UV light results in increased subcutaneous fat metabolism. While subcutaneous fat, unlike visceral fat, is not considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is known that a deficiency of one of sunlight’s best known beneficial byproducts, vitamin D, is associated with greater visceral fat. Also, there is a solid body of research showing that vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, with 9 such studies on our obesity research page. One of them, titled “Association of plasma vitamin D levels with adiposity in Hispanic and African Americans,” and which was published in the journal Anticancer Research in 2005, found that vitamin D levels were inversely associated with adiposity in Hispanics and African-Americans, including abdominal obesity. The point? Exposure to UVB radiation, which is most abundant two hours on either side of solar noon and responsible for producing vitamin D, may be an essential strategy in burning midsection fat, the natural way.
by: Lisa Garber
July 1, 2012
Go ahead: pack up a healthy lunch and step into the sun. Your brain will thank you for it. A study conducted by the University of Manchester proposes that adequate levels of vitamin D—which abounds in direct sunlight—helps maintain mind health and cognitive function. Researchers examined over 3,000 European men between the ages 40 and 79 and found that those with high levels of the vitamin outperformed with low levels in memory and information processing trials.
Dr. Iain Lange, who conducted similar research, warns that poor diet in general—not necessarily vitamin D deficiency—could be to blame for poor mental performance. Even so, he admits that the evidence for vitamin D is rising and that it may safeguard cells or signaling pathways in the brain.
Vitamin D Deficiency Effects Mind Health and More
Vitamin D deficiency is linked with rickets in children, weak bones in the elderly, poor mind health, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. A 2010 blog post in the Scientific American even adds to the ever extending list Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder associated with cognitive decline.
Many studies in recent years (using genetically modified mice, although who knows how they’ve been “modified”) report that the animals experienced premature aging—retarded growth, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, immunological deficiency, skin and organ atrophy, and short lifespan—due to low levels of vitamin D.
Despite the mounting evidence, researchers are quiet about why vitamin D is linked with mind health and improved cognitive health – it’s because they simply don’t know.
Some say that vitamin D may trigger a boost in protective hormonal activity in the brain, although only animal and no human studies can back up this theory. Others claim that vitamin D reins in a hyperactive immune system. Still others cite the vitamin’s ability to boost antioxidant levels and detoxify the brain.
While still researching why vitamin D is such a boon, Prof. Tim Spector of King’s College London says, “This underscores the importance of vitamin D for humans and why evolution gave us a liking for the sun.”
And what better way to celebrate our evolutionary history than to slather on some SPF and step out into the great outdoors?
If you need more reasons to take that beach trip this year, check out our previous article on the amazing benefits of vitamin D. And for those days when you’re stuck inside (remember, vitamin D can’t penetrate window glass!), read up on other ways to get your fill of this essential nutrient.