Vitamin D is essential for good bone health, and promotes good overall bodily function. When paired with calcium, vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis, which is highly common in women who have started menopause. Research also shows that women with low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk for breast cancer, but can reduce their risk significantly by increasing their intake of this healthy vitamin.
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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a better look at how vitamin D helps reduce your risk for breast cancer, along with how you can increase your vitamin D intake.
Breast cancer and vitamin D
Vitamin D helps improve the function of your muscle, nervous, and immune systems, the latter of which is especially vital at warding off illness and disease. A strong immune system can battle inflammation, which can otherwise trigger the growth of abnormal breast cancer cells. Vitamin D has been shown effective at managing normal, healthy breast cell growth, and may be able to prevent and stop breast cancer cells from growing.
Sunshine exposure for vitamin D
While wearing sunscreen should be an important part of your daily skincare regime, short periods of direct exposure to sunlight can benefit your health and lower the risk for breast cancer. Aim to get at least 15 minutes of direct sunshine three days per week to get more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Just apply sunscreen afterwards to reduce your risk for premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
If UV radiation levels in your area are moderate or high, continue using sunscreen and sun protection to lower your risk for skin cancer. Check your local weather forecast to determine that day’s UV index before stepping outdoors without sunscreen.
Improved nutrition for vitamin D
Talk to your doctor about increasing your vitamin D intake so you can lower your risk for breast cancer and osteoporosis. Your doctor may perform a simple blood test to check your vitamin D serum level, and discuss nutrition and supplementation that can help you get the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.
Examples of foods high in vitamin D:
- Steelhead trout
If fresh seafood is difficult to obtain in your area, look for foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as cereal, yogurt, milk, and orange juice. These foods may have relatively low amounts of vitamin D, but can provide you with the nutrients you need when combined with supplementation.
Are you or is someone you know at risk for breast cancer? Prevention and preparation start with you. If you’d like to learn more about breast cancer and how to move on after a mastectomy, download our free e-book, The Basics of Breast Reconstruction.