Sunshine and blue sky background with the word Vitamin D and a female hand poised to pick the D image

by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

A study published June 15, 2018, goes beyond anecdotal experiences or theories that indicate vitamin D offers immune boosting protection against minor diseases such as colds, flues, and other respiratory diseases. It also offers protection against cancer. 

There have been other studies demonstrating vitamin D’s ability to protect against different cancers in the past. This latest study focused on breast cancer, which afflicts women more than any other cancer. 

The bulk of its focus centered on what serum levels of vitamin D did the most to prevent breast cancer. 

This article will summarize this latest study’s complete text which demystifies vitamin D, clears the controversy air around vitamin D supplements, deals with dosage amounts, and explains how one can home test for vitamin D serum levels.

The Vitamin D – Breast Cancer Study Published in the Open Access Journal PLOS ONE.

Though intentionally ignored by the cancer industry, there have been studies and observations of vitamin D’s immunological properties against cancer. Dr. Ray Sahelian comments from his online advice site: 

Epidemiological studies and work on experimental animals strongly suggest a protective effect of cholecalciferol vitamin D3 … against colon cancer and several other cancers. (…)

The many biological functions of vitamin D that contribute to cancer prevention have only recently begun to be appreciated. Once activated 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D … functions as a potent inhibitor of normal and cancer cellular proliferation. [Hyperlink added by author] (Source)

This most recent study is an epidemiological study. It was designed to analyze a large number of women over 55 from different cohort pools over a four-year period to compare the different rates of breast cancer diagnoses according to serum levels of vitamin D. 

The published study authors’ reason for this study was to determine if a considerably higher vitamin D blood level than earlier standards, which were only for preventing rickets, would enhance protection against breast cancer.

Their analyses included two cohorts (groups) of women over 55 on double-blind randomized clinical trials using placebos vs vitamin D and calcium supplements. Both cohorts were from a nine-county area in Eastern Nebraska. One began in 2007, and the other started up in 2017.

A third cohort came from an international survey of female volunteers, also over 55, mostly from the USA and Canada, submitted blood spots for vitamin D level analysis with completed questionnaires. 

The total number of subjects was over 5,000, and they were all cancer-free at baseline and 10 years prior. The two Nebraska groups were followed four years, and during the four-year observational period, 77 were diagnosed with breast cancer.  The third group was followed for two years. 

The two vitamin D serum levels subject to comparison were the normal level mainstream medicine, traditionally used at 20 ng/ml or below, compared to serum levels at or higher than 60 ng/ml. The ng stands for nanograms and the ml is milliliters. 

All three groups analyzed showed definite correlations of around 80 percent lower risks of breast cancer at the 60 ng/ml or higher blood level of vitamin D than the 20 mg/ml or below levels. The full text of this study can be accessed here.

Demystifying Vitamin D and How It Should Be Supplemented

Skin exposure to sunlight’s UVB rays during periods of the most intensely radiant sun availability is the most ideal way to create healthy blood levels of vitamin D. The body has its built-in mechanism to halt production from sunlight when there is enough.

But this is not practical for most humans today. People with dark-colored skin have more difficulty converting sunlight to vitamin D than lighter skinned folks. Tanning beds that create UVB rays work. But they are not always accessible, and not everyone can afford their own.

Food has little to offer for providing vitamin D, so supplementing is the way to go for most, regardless of the unsubstantiated controversy over its safety and efficacy. 

The claims that vitamin D is a hormone or prohormone are inaccurate. It is actually a prehormone that activates or helps create other hormones vital for optimal metabolic functioning. But it can be considered a vitamin because if there is an insufficient amount in one’s body, one becomes susceptible to a wide variety of diseases.  (Source) 

There are two basic types of vitamin D supplements available. One is pharmaceutical ergocalciferol vitamin D2, which is less effective than vitamin D3, which is cholecalciferol. The latter, cholecalciferol, is more natural, more effective, and safer than the pharmaceutical version, naturally.

The cholecalciferol D3 version that comes in gel capsules contains an oil usually extracted from sheared sheep’s wool as lanolin or sometimes from distilled fish oil. The human body is familiar with both D3 cholecalciferol substances because it is the same as the beginning stage of processing vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays. 

The skin’s cholesterol creates the first form of D3 from the sun’s UVB rays, then proceeds to the liver and kidneys into the final stages of 25 hydroxy D3 and 1.25 hydroxy D3. 

Both final forms have slightly different functions within the endocrine system of the body. You could say the supplemental cholecalciferol D3 oils are predigested D3 to substitute that first level of sunlight UVB conversion to D3. The graphic below clearly shows this natural process.


Cholecalciferol D3 is superior to lab synthesized vitamin D2. Unfortunately, there are many who confuse the issue by claiming that all vitamin D supplements are artificial, unhealthy, and even toxic. 

Considering cholecalciferol vitamin D3 supplements as ineffective and toxic as pharmaceutical D2 is misleading misinformation that benefits the anti-supplement contingent of naysayers.     

One IU (international unit) of vitamin D is the biological impact equivalent of 25 nanograms (ng) or 0.025 mcg (micrograms) cholecalciferol. 

So a capsule containing 2000 IU of vitamin D3 is equivalent to 50 micrograms (mcg). Obviously, a couple thousand IUs is not a big deal. But a couple of thousand mgs of D3 is way too much. All vitamin D3 supplements are measured in IUs. (Source)

Ideal Supplement Dosage and the Test to Determine Your Blood Levels of Vitamin D

The Food and Nutrition Board has a much lower level to shoot for, 20 ng/ml, which can be maintained with 600 – 800 ng/ml of vitamin D supplementing or sunshine access. This is based on the outdated notion of vitamin D being useful only for healthy bones and preventing rickets. 

Since then, vitamin D’s usefulness has been constantly widening due to research and clinical observations to include many immunological functions, some of which were discussed earlier in this article. 

The Vitamin D Council recommends supplementing 5,000 IUs of D3 daily to get up to a level of that’s generally considered sufficient. The range of serum (blood) vitamin D considered sufficient is within 40 to 80 ng/ml (milliliters). 

The test that will produce the most accurate vitamin D serum level is the 25(OH)D test. Be specific and insist on this test only. The 1,25(OH)₂D test preferred by some medical professionals or simply the default test by some labs is not as accurate as the 25(OH)D test. 

Of course, if you test at or near the 50 ng/ml level, you don’t need to supplement or change your lifestyle to accommodate UVB rays from the sun or tanning beds. Close to or more than 100 ng/ml is flirting with danger, as 150 ng/ml is considered toxic. Sun or supplement less.

If your primary care physician won’t cooperate with giving you this test or insists on another, or if you don’t have a physician or access to a lab testing facility, you can order a home testing kit from the Vitamin D Council, which is usually cheaper than using a doctor. 

Here’s a home testing kit demo. 

You may come across a different type of vitamin D blood level measurement from studies in other nations. They often read in nmol/l (nanomoles per liter). To convert a test result measured in nmol/l to one measured in ng/ml, divide the nmol/l number by 2.5. To change from ng/ml to nmol/l multiply by 2.5.

Skin to direct sunshine, when it’s at strongest, is the best way to boost your vitamin D levels. The right type of UVB tanning beds is useful for duplicating the sun exposure results.

Too many have bought into the unfounded “skin cancer from sun” fear. They avoid direct sunshine on their skin or slather on toxic sunscreens when they don’t avoid sunshine on their skin. These sunscreen lotions inhibit UVB rays that create vitamin D protection from cancer while allowing potentially damaging UVA rays through.

The vast majority of people in modern industrialized cultures are very vitamin D deficient, almost everyone. So inexpensive supplementing with cholecalciferol D3 supplements is the way for most of us to develop sufficient vitamin D blood levels for stronger immune systems.