WELLINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Wider use of vitamin D- fortified foods could help fight a range of bowel diseases, including cancer, as people around the world avoid the harmful rays of the sun, according to a New Zealand research out Friday.
Public awareness of the risk of skin cancer from sunlight, also a major source of vitamin D, meant that vitamin D from diet was more important than ever, Auckland University cancer researcher Professor Lynn Ferguson said.
"Gastrointestinal diseases such as colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease are becoming increasingly common worldwide, including among children and adolescents," Ferguson said in a statement.
"This is a substantial burden on healthcare and a changing vitamin D intake through reduced exposure to sunlight not compensated through diet, may play a key role in susceptibility to such disorders," she said.
However, too much vitamin D could have adverse effects so optimal intake levels of vitamin D for an individual could be assessed using personalized genetic and genomic information.
Genomic technologies had revealed several hundred genes associated with vitamin D actions.
"This would provide the very best disease prevention and remission," said Ferguson.
"Across a range of gastrointestinal disorders there is also increasing evidence that the symptoms and longer term consequences of several of these disorders could be benefited by either regular use of a vitamin D supplement, or consumption of vitamin D- enhanced foods," she said.
Although few foods contained significant amounts of vitamin D, important sources in the diet could include fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, fish liver oils and eggs.
Small amounts of vitamin D were also found in beef liver, cheese and other dairy products.
"It has been claimed that it is almost impossible to obtain sufficient vitamin D from the diet alone, without supplementation, " she said.
"In Australia for example, fortified margarine appears as a major dietary source of vitamin D, while fortified milk has become an important source of this nutrient, especially for young children," she said.
"In the future, we could see the potential of expanding this approach to a form of routine genetic screening at birth, coupled with pre-emptive nutrition in individuals discovered to be at high risk of gastrointestinal disorders," she added.