The simple nutrient that could mean the difference between life and death for men with prostate cancer

Fact: Almost every man will end up with prostate cancer.

By age 50, 50 percent of men will have the disease. By age 80, that statistic jumps to 80 percent. And you know what? Most of these men will go on to die of something else entirely.

But not always. And that’s the tricky thing about prostate cancer. It can be tough to know if “watchful waiting” is the best treatment…or if you’re dealing with a lethal disease that requires immediate action.

That’s why I still recommend routine PSA testing. The information it provides can be life-saving—as long as doctors carefully weigh benefits of further, more invasive testing vs. the potential risks. And the PSA test can help them do that.

But according to recent research, there might be another screening worth adding to the list too. And believe it or not, it’s a simple vitamin D test.

This new study comes out of Chicago. And its results appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It looked at 190 men participating in a larger study examining the link between vitamin D levels and prostate cancer.

We’ve known for some time now that low vitamin D status is a red flag for aggressive disease. But this is the first research to demonstrate such a direct correlation. In fact, among the 90 men who were diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, the median vitamin D level was a mere 22.7 ng/mL.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t that much lower than 30 ng/mL, which is what most doctors consider “normal.” And the study authors themselves even mentioned that the average Chicago resident will have vitamin D levels of about 25 ng/mL in the winter.

Obviously, this is a huge problem. Especially since the lead researcher in this study recommends that men supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 IU to replenish their levels. (News flash: That’s not nearly enough.)

I’ve gone over this many times before—even once in this issue already. But it bears repeating. Because as this research shows, it really is a matter of life and death.

You need to supplement with at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day in order to maintain healthy levels. Yes…even in the summer.

Sunshine is always the best way to get more vitamin D. But it’s almost never sufficient by itself. You can supplement with lower doses of D3 during the summer IF you get full mid-day sun exposure over most of your body. Without sunscreen. For 20 minutes per day. Every day.

But in order to eliminate your supplement altogether, you’d also have to live in South Florida or the very Southern part of Texas. If you don’t, you must keep taking it.

And if you work in an office most days like I do, bear in mind that 2,000 to 5,000 IU may not even be enough. If you’re clinically deficient, you may still require up to 10,000 IU—even in the dog days of summer. (That’s how much I take myself.)

You won’t know for sure until you get tested. So, once again, if you haven’t had your levels measured lately, ask your doctor to check them today. (You can also order your own vitamin D testing kit through a company called Direct Labs. Just visit their website at Or call 800-908-0000 and reference account code: R-OVH.)


Nyame YA, et al. “Associations Between Serum Vitamin D and Adverse Pathology in Men Undergoing Radical Prostatectomy.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016; 34(12):1345-9