Vitamin D: A Beneficial Ingredient in a Mesothelioma Diet

Health & Wellness

Vitamin D has long been known as an important nutrient for our health. Unlike any other vitamin, our bodies can create vitamin D from sunlight, but we also get it from our diet.

This multipurpose vitamin converts to a hormone called calcitriol to boost bone strength, but it does more than just help with bones. It is important for cell growth, muscle strength and immunity.

There is limited evidence that shows vitamin D may have anti-cancer effects. However, a recent study out of Italy suggests that vitamin D may play an important anti-cancer role in malignant pleural mesothelioma. While further studies need to be conducted, preliminary findings suggest it may complement mesothelioma treatments such as chemotherapy.

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients we get little of from the foods we eat. We make vitamin D through sunlight when our skin is exposed to it. 

There are factors, however, that affect how much. Clouds, clothing, sunscreen and darker-colored skin tones reduce how much of this vitamin we make. Aging skin will also reduce our ability to make vitamin D. 

Most food sources come from fortified foods. “Fortified” means a nutrient has been added during the processing of that food. In the U.S., these foods are mainly milk and cereal. Plant-based milks such as soy and oat milk are also fortified. Fatty fish such as trout and salmon also provide a good amount of vitamin D.

Why Do Mesothelioma Patients Need Vitamin D?

Treatment and side effects can often cause those with mesothelioma to spend less time outdoors. This can lower one’s vitamin D levels. Some mesothelioma treatments can also cause a vitamin D deficiency.

In the U.S., about 1 in 4 people are deficient in vitamin D. The best way to know if you have a vitamin D deficiency is to have your physician do a simple blood test that will determine your levels.

Vitamin D supplements may be a good way to increase your intake, but you will need to check with your physician to determine if this is the right course of action for you. For now, aim for foods that contain vitamin D, which would include trout, salmon, mushrooms and vitamin D-fortified milk.

Try this quick and easy recipe for baked trout with lemon. This simple dish provides a healthy dose of vitamin D in addition to protein and omega 3 fats. Pair with some steamed or baked vegetables and potatoes for a perfectly balanced meal.

Baked trout with lemon in a pan
Prepare baked trout with lemon for a delicious dose of vitamin D.

Lemon Baked Trout

  • Olive or canola oil cooking spray
  • 4 trout filets (4 ounces), with skin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 lemons
  • Set rack in center of oven.
  • Heat oven to 425 F, or preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot and prepare it for cooking with indirect heat.
  • Lay heavy-duty foil over a large baking sheet. Coat lightly with cooking spray.
  • Arrange trout filets on foil, spacing about 1 inch apart and leaving at least 2 inches around the edges. Coat fish lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle each filet with a pinch of salt and 5 or 6 grinds of pepper.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut off the end of a lemon. Cut lemon into the thinnest possible slices. Using the tip of the knife, flick the seeds out of each slice.
  • Arrange 3-4 lemon slices down the center of each trout filet, overlapping slightly.
  • Lay another sheet of foil over the fish and roll edges together to seal.
  • If using an outdoor grill, slide the fish packet onto the grill. Later, slide it back onto a baking sheet to help lift it off the grill.
  • Bake trout for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fish is opaque and flakes easily at its thickest point.
  • To serve, transfer each filet with some lemon slices to a dinner plate.

Recipe courtesy of American Institute for Cancer Research

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