Although it has vitamin in its name, vitamin D should really be thought of as a hormone due to its many important actions in the body. Vitamin D is well known as a strengthener of bones, but it also plays a role in brain, heart, and lung health. However, perhaps the most important role of vitamin D is its effect on the immune system. With regard to cancer treatment, vitamin D has been shown to enhance cancer cell death (known as apoptosis) and also decrease the growth of blood vessels which feed tumors (a process known a angiogenesis). Sadly, very few oncologists check vitamin D levels on their patients.

As with most lab values, simply attaining a “normal” level of vitamin D is not enough. One study showed a 70% increased risk of tumor formation when the serum vitamin D level was less than 60 ng/mL. Thus, my goal is to get the blood level to at least 60 ng/mL, and ideally in the 80s or 90s. I rarely see new patients in my office who have vitamin D levels above 60.

Many people believe that they can get enough vitamin D if they spend time outside and/or drink a glass of milk every now and then. While that might be enough to prevent rickets, it is hardly enough if you are interested in optimizing your immune system and fighting cancer. You need a high quality vitamin D supplement in order to achieve the necessary level. Please don’t resort to mass market stores or random internet retailers when purchasing a vitamin D supplements. Look for physician grade vitamin D, in the correct form (vitamin D3) with vitamin K2 included to enhance absorption.

I make vitamin D supplementation a key focus in my treatment protocols, because vitamin D and cancer should always go together. So whether you are trying to do everything possible to enhance your health or are having to prioritize for some reason, I believe that vitamin D should be included.