Our bodies need vitamin D to help keep our bones healthy. Vitamin D helps children build strong bones and prevent the bone disease rickets. It helps adults avoid conditions including osteoporosis that weaken bones and can cause them to break.
In addition, some studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of colorectal cancer. However, other studies found no significant link. An editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November says “there remains considerable uncertainty about cancer prevention with supplementary vitamin D.”
It’s clear, however, that we need vitamin D to stay healthy. People can get vitamin D from their diet, from supplements, and from the sun. However, staying out in the sun without protection exposes people to harmful UV rays, which is a strong risk factor for most skin cancers. And getting too much vitamin D, for example, from taking very high doses of supplements, can be harmful.
American Cancer Society epidemiologist Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, offers these tips:
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