Foods fortified with vitamin D could save tens of thousands of lives

Vitamin D is essential for the body.  According to a study, food fortification can reduce cancer mortality.

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Of: Caroline Schäfer


Vitamin D is essential for the body. According to a study, food fortification can reduce cancer mortality. © Karl-Josef Opim/dpa

Vitamin D is essential for health. A new study shows that additional food fortification reduces cancer mortality.

Heidelberg – Besides bone and muscle diseases, vitamin D deficiency is also associated with cancer. Studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements can reduce the death rate from cancer. Therefore, in some countries like the United States, Canada and Finland, foods are already fortified with vitamin D.

Epidemiologists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) led by Hermann Brenner in Europe have also investigated this question. To do this, the research team collected information on vitamin D supplementation policies from 34 European countries.

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Vitamin D: Food fortification can prevent many cancer-related deaths

The number of cancer-related deaths and the respective life expectancy in the countries were then linked to the results of previous studies. Using available data, the researchers estimated “the number of cancer-related deaths that are already averted in countries through food fortification,” according to the May research report. They also calculated the number of deaths that could also be avoided if all EU countries fortified foods with vitamin D.

The result: enrichment could prevent around 27,000 cancer-related deaths in European countries each year. “According to our model calculations, if all the countries we looked at fortified foods with adequate amounts of vitamin D, around 130,000, or around 9% of all cancer deaths in Europe, could be prevented,” said explained the leader of the study, Brenner. This would correspond to a gain of almost 1.2 million years of life.

More vitamin D in the diet: “Reduction of cancer mortality”

“Current data on reducing cancer mortality show the immense potential that improving vitamin D supply could have, but not just for cancer prevention,” says Brenner. “We should make better use of it in the future.” Although vitamin D does not reduce the risk of cancer, studies show that it reduces mortality. However, it does not replace proper cancer treatment.

But how does it work ? The vitamin suppresses cancer-promoting factors and chronic inflammatory reactions, Tobias Niedermaier informed in an interview ntv.dewho also participated in the study. Due to the various effects on the body, the probability of “surviving cancer” increases.

These foods contain vitamin D

There is practically no vitamin D in food, which is why it is often supplemented. However, too much vitamin D can be bad for your health. However, some foods are good sources:

  • Fatty fish, such as herring, mackerel, and salmon
  • Liver of beef
  • Lawyer
  • eggs
  • Edible mushrooms, such as chanterelles and button mushrooms
  • Fortified foods, such as margarine

Most of our stores of vitamin D, also known as the sun vitamin, are replenished by sufficient exposure to sunlight. The DKFZ therefore recommends spending about twelve minutes in the sun two to three times a week. “The face, hands and parts of the arms and legs must be uncovered and without sun protection during this period”, specifies the research center. (cheese)

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