Updated: 16 hours ago
Breast cancer can affect women with no risk factors, and today constitutes the most common non-skin type of cancer among women. But since the 1980s, rapid developments in screening have enabled researchers to better understand the processes behind how breast cancer may manifest itself, as well as what vitamins are good for breast health.
Yet, in 2020 alone, World Health Organization reported that over 650.000 women globally were notified by their doctors that they have breast cancer. This is a great cause of concern among women, especially those in the post-menopause period, who are at a higher risk of developing potentially deadly forms of breast cancer.
But all is not lost. As mentioned above, our increased understanding of breast disorders means that certain techniques and supplements have now been shown to help combat the different forms of breast disorders or prevent them altogether.
Some of these techniques are well-known, such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and regular screening. But there are also little things we can do to give our system that little bit of extra grease to promote breast health while also supporting our overall health as well.
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Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” helps to regulate the level of phosphate and calcium in our bodies. This is critical to keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. But recent studies also indicate that it may be among the most effective vitamins against breast disorders, chief of these being breast cancer.
However, according to Healthline, up to 42% of American adults consistently have suboptimal levels of vitamin D. This kind of deficiency can lead to many ailments in the long term, such as cognitive impairment, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, rickets, and, of course, breast cancer.
The number of studies pointing at a clear correlation between higher vitamin D levels and breast cancer prevention is rapidly increasing. For example, one such study in 2017 showed that women who received vitamin D supplementation were approximately 50% less likely to develop breast cancer on average.
For most people, the ball of light in the sky is all that is needed to sustain healthy levels of vitamin D for about half the year. Therefore, from March to October, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from the sun. However, alternative sources of vitamin D can be utilized when the sun seems out of reach for prolonged periods. Yet, according to the National Library of Medicine, over one billion people worldwide are facing vitamin D deficiency.
Below are some of the most common sources of vitamin D:
Oily fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel Egg yolks
Fortified foods, such as fortified milk or breakfast cereals
Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are both accessible as dietary supplements. However, vitamin D3 has been demonstrated to be more beneficial against breast diseases. Patients who have little sun exposure, are older, or have darker skin, which makes it more difficult to synthesis vitamin D from sun exposure, are frequently prescribed a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It dissolves in water and is distributed very easily but requires regular intake as it is not stored well within the body. It plays a major role in controlling infections and healing wounds, and is a potent antioxidant capable of neutralizing harmful free radicals.
Some common ailments vitamin C helps protect against are hyperthyroidism, anemia, gum disease, and scurvy. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adults over the age of 19 is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. However, this intake may need to be increased for smokers or during pregnancy.
Luckily, vitamin C is readily available in many common foods for those not too keen on the idea of using supplements.
Some of the best natural sources of vitamin C are:
Vitamin C is also widely available as a supplement. Doctors particularly recommend time-release vitamin C, which releases slowly, meaning you can maintain healthy levels without having to take multiple tablets throughout the day.
Vitamin E’s primary functions are to help maintain healthy eyes and skin and boost the body’s natural defense against illness and infections. It is found very widely in common food items. And any amount of vitamin E that is not needed immediately is stored efficiently within the body, meaning that you do not require a daily intake.
It has also been suggested that regular vitamin E intake may be beneficial for breast health, with studies showing a correlation between higher levels of vitamin E and reduced levels of breast cancer.
However, this conclusion is being contested within the scientific community. Still, even if it does not majorly affect breast health, vitamin E is very beneficial for many other processes in our bodies.
Some common natural sources of vitamin E are:
Peanuts and almonds
Butternut squash Avocados
Vitamin E is found in most supplements in the form of alpha-tocopherol. This synthetic form of vitamin E is different from those found in natural foods. However, it can still be a good addition to your list of supplements as it has been shown to be very beneficial for several conditions in addition to supporting breast health.
Vitamin B6 is also a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in many food items. It is commonly measured as Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate, which is the active coenzyme form of B6.
Vitamin B6 is a truly all-around health booster, assisting over 100 enzymes to perform various functions including the breakdown of macronutrients, supporting immune function, and brain health, and has recently been shown to enhance the body’s defense mechanism against breast cancer.
Vitamin B6 deficiency negatively effects the body’s immune system, and has been linked to an increased possibility of developing breast disorders. Failing to consume enough vitamin B6 can also lead to several other conditions such as microcytic anemia, dermatitis, glossitis, and depression.
National Institutes of Health recommends a daily dose of 1.3 mg for adult males, and 1.2 for females. However, this required dose increases to 1.9 mg during pregnancy.
Some of the most common natural sources of vitamin B6 are:
Fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B6 is also available in supplement form, and is recommended by doctors for children and teenagers to promote improved cognition as well as a proper breakdown of sugars, fats, and proteins.
Bonus: Fish Oil!
While not exactly a vitamin itself, fish oil contains many components that are extremely beneficial for breast health as well as a plethora of other bodily functions. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil fight against any sort of inflammation in the body, which prevents the formation of a suitable environment for breast disorders.
Most fish oil is also very rich in vitamins A and D, which are also directly linked to a lower likelihood of breast cancer. In addition, studies have also shown the active role of omega-3 fatty acids in combating cancer by preventing toxicity within the body.
However, health practitioners advise a level of caution when consuming fish as certain species like ling and fresh tuna. A rule of thumb when choosing which fish to purchase is to opt for smaller, sustainably caught fish like anchovies and sardines, as these have shown to contain very minimal levels of mercury.
Fish oil supplements are also very commonly used as dietary supplements. A popular fish oil supplement is Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, which contains 1,100 mg of combined DHA and EPA, sourced from wild-caught anchovies and sardines.
Can vitamins keep breast cancer from coming back?
No vitamins or supplements have been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence as of yet. However, many of the vitamins outlined in this list have been proven through regular examination to be beneficial for breast health, which by itself is the primary deterrent of breast disorders.
It must also be noted that most specialists advise obtaining the necessary vitamins and minerals through natural sources rather than supplements.
This is because regulatory legislature for the manufacture and distribution of supplements vary depending on the country. And in the US, these vitamins can be sold as dietary supplements, which means they are not subject to extensive examination to prove their effectiveness.
Breast health is a very complex issue. And we need to consider many things when looking to improve it, such as exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular check-ups.
Nevertheless, the vitamins examined in this list are rooted in concrete foundations in terms of scientific analysis and, for most women, may be very beneficial to avoiding severe illnesses.