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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Am I Getting Enough Vitamin D?

By Editorial Contributor, Sue Cimino

I recently attended a health and nutrition seminar by Dr. Sheryl Duchess, N.D. Although I knew the importance of Vitamin D, I was unaware of the correlation between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer.

Research suggests that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer. Vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing.

Testing your Vitamin D levels will help you understand your individual requirements. Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels next time you go in for bloodwork. When your doctor orders lab tests to check your vitamin D levels, they are measuring your calcifediol (25D) which is the metabolized form of vitamin D once absorbed into the bloodstream.

Over the last decade recommended levels of vitamin D has evolved. 35-45 ng/ml is sufficient but anything under 35 ng/ml is considered insufficient. For peak health 45-70 ng/ml is required. However, many individuals are not meeting these levels to support optimal health due to several factors such as lack of sun exposure, increased use of sunscreens, and health of your gut.

What Does Vitamin D Do?

Vitamin D plays an important role in cognition, bone health, heart health, and immune support. According to, it also helps the muscle and nervous systems function properly. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for good bone health. I wrote about the importance of calcium in last month’s blog.

How To Get Vitamin D?

Vitamin D comes from two main sources: From sun exposure and from food. Additionally, supplements are another way to boost your intake.

Much to my surprise Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all. It is a Pro-Hormone, 1 of 24 nutrients needed for survival. Most vitamin D is made when an inactive form of the nutrient is activated in your skin when it's exposed to sunlight. Smaller amounts of vitamin D are in fortified milk and other foods, fatty fish, and eggs. As more and more people spend most of their time out of direct sunlight or wearing sunscreen when they are in the sun, vitamin D production from sun exposure is limited.

I am sure, as are many of you, finding the right aromatase inhibitor that did not make me feel and move like a 90-year-old woman was a challenge. What I learned was a high-dose vitamin D relieves joint and muscle pain for many breast cancer patients taking estrogen-lowering drugs, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

It was Rastelli's colleague, Marie E. Taylor, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, who first noticed that patients on aromatase inhibitors who experienced this pain found some relief from high doses of vitamin D. "High-dose vitamin D seems to be really effective in reducing the musculoskeletal pain caused by aromatase inhibitors," Rastelli says. "Patients who get the vitamin D weekly feel better because their pain is reduced and sometimes goes away completely. This makes the drugs much more tolerable. Millions of women worldwide take aromatase inhibitor therapy, and we may have another 'tool' to help them remain on it longer."

In another study from The Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency may contribute to musculoskeletal symptoms and bone loss observed in women taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs). This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of suboptimal vitamin D levels in women initiating adjuvant Letrozole for breast cancer and to determine whether supplementation with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 weekly could reduce musculoskeletal symptoms and fatigue in women who have suboptimal vitamin D levels.

What is the difference between Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3?

When people talk about vitamin D it can be confusing. Have you ever noticed that you cannot walk into your local pharmacy and pick up an over the counter vitamin D? They are actually broken down into vitamin D2 which mostly comes from plants or what is used in fortified products like cereal while D3 comes from animal products like salmon, and egg yolks or fish oil.

If you are deficient in vitamin D, your doctor may prescribe the 50,000 IU capsules which are prescription only. This high dose is not for long term use but it’s safe to take for several consecutive weeks until your vitamin D levels are back in the normal range.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology and the Vitamin D counsel regard Vitamin D3 supplementation necessary to support healthy bone mineral density.

Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble and supports the normal delivery of D3 to the bones, as well as promotes healthy arteries.

I found the best Vitamin D3 containing 5000 IU per serving and the necessary Vitamin K2 for proper delivery was in an Isotonic format. I spoke last month about the superior delivery system that Isotonic provides. Taking my Calcium and Vitamin D3 with K2 in an isotonic format has truly made a big difference in my quality of life.

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