Powerhouse Preventive: Vitamin D
Why you need it: Women with the highest levels of vitamin D suffer from breast cancer 50 percent less often than those with the lowest, according to a meta-analysis done at the University of California, San Diego. A national survey found that 53 percent of American women are D deficient. Be sure you’re not one of them.
Find it in: Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), eggs and fortified dairy products.
How much you need: The official suggestion is 200 IU a day, but the latest thinking calls for 800 IU. Since it’s hard to get enough D from food (a cup of fortified skim milk contains only 115 IU), you might need a supplement. But before you start popping pills, get a blood test to determine if your vitamin D blood levels are low (ask to be tested the next time you get your blood drawn), then consult with your doctor about proper dosage.
Bonus benefits: Some data suggest that people with high levels of vitamin D have lower rates of all cancers and a lower risk of premature death.
Originally published in the July/August 2010 issue of More.