Insufficient Sunlight destroys health. Part 1

Insufficient sunlight destroys health. By Marc Sorenson, EdD

Insufficient sunlight a public health problem

Insufficient sunlight is wreaking havoc on health and ruining the enjoyment sunlight provides. Yet, we choose to live in air-conditioned homes, play many of our sports in covered buildings and drive covered cars. In addition, advertisements persuade us that we must wear sunscreen anytime we venture outdoors. Some also suggest that we wear it at night. Thus, they think we can prevent “sun damage” that continues after daytime outdoor sun exposure.  It is obvious that the greater part of our population suffers sunlight deprivation. Or, as a recent scientific review called it, “insufficient sun exposure.”

The paper, Insufficient Sun Exposure Has Become a Real Public Health Problem, exposes the damage done due to sun deprivation.

First of all, the authors begin by stating that deaths due to insufficient sunlight are staggering. They amount to 340,000 yearly deaths in the U.S. and 480,000 in Europe. They then delineate the source of those deaths, first declaring a list of major maladies that spread illness and misery. The list includes breast and colorectal cancer, hypertension, CVD, metabolic syndrome, MS, Alzheimer’s, autism, asthma, type 1 diabetes and myopia. In addition, excessive mortality (death) was also on the list due to of insufficient sunlight. Yet, although the list of these sun-sensitive diseases is impressive, I must say I was disappointed. They did not mention another 15 cancers and other diseases associated closely to insufficient sunlight. For those cancers, and additional diseases, read the book, Embrace the Sun, which I wrote with Dr. William Grant.

For decades, scientists designated vitamin D as the only photoproduct of sunlight that produced benefits.

One of the paper’s salient points regarding insufficient sunlight and is transcendentally important. I have been emphasizing the point for years, yet much of the world ignores it. The point is that vitamin D is a vital and important photoproduct of sun exposure. Yet, other photoproducts of sunlight are equally vital. This statement by the authors tends to clarify the truth about Vitamin D and its place with human health. “Vitamin D has long been considered the principal mediator of beneficial effects of sun exposure. However, oral vitamin D supplementation has not been convincingly shown to prevent the above conditions; thus, serum 25(OH)D as an indicator of vitamin D status may be a proxy for and not a mediator of beneficial effects of sun exposure.”

The authors also mention that nitric oxide, and direct effects of ultraviolet radiation, may work independently of vitamin D. For example, nitric oxide is a colorless gas, formed by sunlight exposure to  endothelial cells in the skin. It acts as a potent vasodilator and lowers blood pressure. In addition, it is also a potent antioxidant. Of course, insufficient sunlight leads to a lack of nitric oxide, vitamin D and other vital photoproducts.

Here are the explanations used in the review regarding different diseases associated with insufficient sun exposure.  Nevertheless, these diseases do not necessarily improve due to vitamin D supplements. Note: the term nmol/L means nanomoles/ per liter, and U.S. measurements are in ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter).

  1. All-cause mortality (death) Effects of insufficient sunlight

The review also states that insufficient sunlight is a risk factor for death similar to that of smoking. In addition, people with serum vitamin D levels less than 22 nmol, have twice the risk of all-cause death. That is, compared to those whose levels were greater than 125 nmol (about 150 ng/ml).  Remember, vitamin D levels in these cases are really proxies for sun exposure.

  1. Breast cancer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

  2. The review quotes research showing a 400% increased breast cancer risk is associated with vitamin D levels less than 50 nmol/L when compared to levels greater than 150 nmol/L. Think sunlight. The vitamin D levels are surrogate measurements for sun exposure.

  3. Colorectal cancer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

    The authors quote a meta-analysis showing a 104% higher risk associated with vitamin D levels less than 30 nmol/L compared to those with levels higher than 82 nmol/L. Interestingly, another study, using animals, showed that neither vitamin D nor UVR (sunlight) was associated with the number of cancer tumors. Nevertheless, ultraviolet radiation (UVR), but not vitamin D, appeared to reduce progression to malignancy. Insufficient sun exposure then, could lead to colorectal cancer.

  1. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), our number-one killer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

In their review, the authors note CVD has been the leading cause of death globally for the last three decades. In addition, hypertension, or high blood pressure is the number-one risk factor for (CVD). The review states that a growing body of evidence shows an inverse relationship between sunlight exposure, blood pressure and CVD. The authors indicate that a mediator other than vitamin D probably contributes to CVD mortality. Thus, nitric oxide, a sun-exposure product and potent vasodilator, may be the chemical that lowers blood pressure and reduces CVD. The researchers further state that those with habitual low sun exposure double the risk of cardiovascular death compared with those who receive the greatest sun exposure. Obviously, insufficient sunlight can be a deadly contributor to CVD due to an inability to produce sufficient nitric oxide.

NItric oxide the super molecule

      5. Metabolic syndrome (MetS). Effects of insufficient sunlight

MetS is a cluster of maladies including glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and high fasting insulin levels. MetS also may include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and cholesterol. All of these factors contribute to heart disease and diabetes. The review noted that UVR suppressed obesity and type 2 diabetes, yet, vitamin D supplementation did not produce the same benefits. The review also suggested that sunlight exposure is an effective suppressor of obesity and MetS through vitamin D-independent mechanisms. 

Other diseases, due to insufficient sunlight, to follow later:

Other diseases in the review also indicated an association to insufficient sunlight. I will expatiate on those diseases in a future blog. Until then, be sure to obtain your share of non-burning, regular sun exposure. In addition, as autumn arrives, you will need a different source of vitamin D production. This is due to the sun’s UVB light being unavailable in autumn and winter in mid to high latitude areas. Therefore, the suggestion is to use a tanning bed, which produces vast quantities of vitamin D. Remember, however, that nitric oxide is available year around, provided the sun is shining.

For more information on the healthful effects of sun exposure, visit Sunlight Institute and read my book, Embrace the Sun.Read Embrace the Sun

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ED (erectile dysfunction) and sunlight

ED and sunlight, by Marc Sorenson, EdD

ED (erectile dysfunction) is an embarrassment and frustration for many men.

ED an embarrassment and frustration

This disease leads to failure in the bedroom for both man and wife. What you may not know is that ED is also a major predictor of heart and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moreover, although some experts consider it a psychological (and therefore neurological) origin, it is not psychological. Erection is a mostly a vascular event and ED is, largely, an artery-blocking vascular disease similar to heart disease. Nevertheless, it also is associated with higher risk of other maladies such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and inflammatory disorders. ED is no laughing matter, and recent research has demonstrated that the condition predicts a profoundly increased risk not only of CVD, but also death in general: A 12-year study showed that men with ED had a 70% increase in all-cause death, compared to men without the condition.

What is the underlying cause of ED?

I believe that (as with other degenerative diseases) junk food consumption plugs arteries and wreaks havoc on all body systems. At our former health resort, men sometimes reported that after using good nutrition and obtaining sun exposure, their ED problems disappeared. Based on the science and observation, it is my opinion that ED originates with poor nutrition. Yet, sun exposure can offer a partial solution for the condition. While sunlight is important, it is an adjunct, not a cure for ED. Only a healthful diet, combined with sunlight, can reverse and heal the disease. So let us delve into the helpful effects the sun brings—effects provided by nitric oxide stimulation to the arteries.

The anatomy of ED.

The vascular part of the ED problem is due to two cylindrical arteries (chambers) called the corpus cavernosa. When anything occludes these chambers, they allow minuscule blood flow into the penis, thus making erection impossible. Nitric Oxide (NO), a product of sun exposure, upon stimulation by the nervous system, causes vasodilation in the cavernosa, allowing them to receive blood. As stated in the online journal, Concepts in Biochemistry, “Achievement of a penile erection in males is largely an application of basic principles of hydraulics. Stimulation of the nerves innervating the penis causes the dilation of the deep arteries supplying blood. A large amount of blood enters the penis and engorges the cavernosa sinuses. This engorgement acts to compress the veins draining blood from the penis. The increased inflow and decreased outflow of blood causes an erection. Cessation of impulses to the penis acts to abolish the erection.”

So, where does sunlight enter in?

sunlight reduces ED

An early study assessed the effect of ultraviolet light (sun) exposure on cavernosal strips, obtained from men during surgery. The strips showed relaxation in response to sunlight, and relaxation increased with the duration of exposure. We expect that sunbathing, which would profoundly increase NO in the circulation, would also allow erection. The same nitric-oxide mechanism that lowers blood pressure would seem to be a good method to treat ED. Another indication that sun exposure can play an important role in treating ED, is the fact most men with ED have low 25(OH)D levels. But we already know that low 25(OH)D levels are a surrogate measurements for low sun exposure. Therefore a large part of the problem may be may be a lack of NO production!

The conclusion:

Many products purportedly cure and alleviate ED. If most men would eat decently and obtain regular, non-burning sun exposure, they and their wives would be much happier and satisfied.

Happy sunning!

For more information on sunlight and disease, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.Sunshine to stop ED

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Mental illness, vitamin D deficiency and sunlight

Mental illness: Vitamin D deficiency, and thereby sunlight deficiency, plays a major role. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.

Mental illness can affect anyone.

Mental illness is a pandemic in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017).  Mental illness has multiple causes and manifestations. It is especially relevant to understand that sunlight deprivation, leading to vitamin D deficiency, plays a major role in this disorder. It is also important to realize that sun exposure, for typical people, produces about 90% of serum (blood) vitamin D. In addition, this production occurs when midday sunlight touches the skin. However, vitamin D is only one of several photoproducts produced by sun exposure to skin or other body parts. In addition, sun exposure produces serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). Furthermore, all of these vital chemicals has a profound influence on mental Illness.

An important study on vitamin D

Sunlight for vitamin D

The disease is ubiquitous, as is sun deprivation. Thus, thus an investigation on vitamin D and mental illness reminded me of the affects of sunlight. This laboratory-based study found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among 290 patients with mental illness. Consequently, Only 18% of these patients showed adequate levels of vitamin D. To me, this also means that only 18% were obtaining sufficient sun exposure for good mental health and well-being. The researchers concluded that sensible sun exposure could be a boon to mental health.

Let us now discuss a few of the disorders classified as types of mental illness. Then we will also mention the research that indicates an impressive salutary influence of sun exposure.  

ADHD, a mental illness of children

The manic phase of ADHD

ADHD ( attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most prevalent of all mental disorders in children. Hence, it causes significant problems with executive functions, leading to hyperactivity or impulsiveness not appropriate for the person’s age. 

Researchers have found that sun exposure correlates to a decreased risk of  ADHD. They assessed the relationship between the prevalence of ADHD and the intensity of the sun in various nations and in US states. And after adjusting for birth weights, infant mortality and other relevant factors, the findings were not altered. It was obvious that sun deprivation by itself was associated with a higher risk of ADHD.

Autism, another disease of youth

Is autism a sun-deficiency disorder? Autism rates are increasing exponentially and associate to vitamin D deficiency, which, of course, associates to sun deficiency. The Autism Society of America defines autism as “a complex developmental disability typically appearing during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder affecting the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.”

If vitamin D deficiency and/or sun deprivation relates to autism, symptoms should improve in summer. Thus, a case study reported by Dr. Cannell revealed improvements in autism-related sleep and behavioral problems during summer. Autistic traits such as crying, excitability, hyperactivity and pounding objects profoundly diminished during summer.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (BPD), also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder causing unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Symptoms are severe and can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and even suicide.https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtm

Sun exposure resets the body’s circadian rhythms, which are variations in physiology and behavior persistent with a cycle length close to 24 hours.  This system is contained in the hypothalamus and stimulated by nerve cells in the retina of the eye in response to light.  Research indicates that environmental conditions early in life may imprint the circadian system and influence mental function later in life:  Increased number of hours of daylight at the location of birth during the first three months of life are associated with a significantly older age of onset of bipolar disorder. For a longer discussion on bipolar disorder, read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Cognitive disabilities (intellectual disorders)

Another research study, based on a 15-year residential history of varying degrees of sun exposure, produced an interesting result. It showed that cognitive impairment in persons who were below the median exposure to sunlight was 88% greater than in those who were above the median.  These same investigators had previously shown that lower levels of sun exposure resulted in a 2.6-times higher incidence of cognitive impairment. Therefore, if you want to think clearly and keep your marbles, regularly soak up some non-burning sunlight.

Depression

Few people realize how prevalent depression is in our society, a mental illness representing a huge drain on the economy. Moreover, according to Steven Genuis, in an editorial in Canadian Family Physician, “The World Health Organization estimates depression costs the American economy about $44 billion annually, equal to the total cost of all cardiovascular diseases.”  He also stated that in one decade, there was a 300% increase in the sales of antidepressants, making these medications the top-selling pharmaceuticals in the world. (Genuis, S. Keeping your sunny side up (editorial). Canadian Family Physician 2006:52:42-43.)

So what does the sun do to relieve “the blues?”

Use the sun to avoid mental illness

The answer probably lies in a chemical responsible for transmitting impulses between nerve cells. This “neurotransmitter,” serotonin, is a natural “upper,” and works in synchronization with the natural “downer,” melatonin. When we awake to sunshine, light enters the eye and stimulates serotonin production. We then quickly become awake and invigorated, and melatonin diminishes. Nevertheless, at day’s end, the bright light disappears (or at least it should), melatonin levels rise, and serotonin levels diminish. We begin to feel sleepy and ideally retire for a good night’s rest. It is a perfect system for our needs—unless we stay up beyond biologically natural hours, by using artificial lighting. Many experts believe that lack of serotonin is a cause of depression.

The most important study on serotonin

Though I mentioned this study in my previous blog on sunlight and depression, it bears repeating here. Dr. Gavin Lambert performed one of the most important and unique studies on serotonin. He and his colleagues measured serotonin levels in response to varying degrees of sunlight. First of all, they drew blood samples from the internal jugular veins of 101 men. In addition, they compared the serotonin concentrations of the blood to weather conditions and seasons. As a result, men measured on a bright day produced eight times more serotonin, than those measured on a dismal day. Of course, the mood improved due to sunlight, with no involvement whatsoever of vitamin D. Thus, regular, non-burning sun exposure is the answer to depression. In addition, remember that sun exposure also leads to the production of other mood enhancers such as nitric oxide, endorphin and dopamine.

Certainly, sunlight deprivation is not the only cause of mental illness, but it is one of the most important.

There are more mental illnesses to discuss, and I will expatiate on those in a future article. In the meantime, protect your mental health by being sure to obtain your share of non-burning sunlight. For more information, visit sunlightinstitute.org, and read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Happy sunning! Sunshine for health

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Depression, vitamin D, and sunlight.

Depression, vitamin D and sunlight. Which is more important? By Marc Sorenson, EdD

depression taking its toll

Depression is a national horror made worse by fear, worry and lack of sunlight. The Covid-19 pandemic and the tendency to lock people away from sunlight and fresh air has taken an enormous toll.

Depression is more likely to respond to sunlight and vitamin D than sedentary living. That is the message I derived from a recent study. First, the purpose of the research was to estimate cumulative vitamin D doses in 96 depressed patients. These vitamin D doses came from two different sources: solar ultraviolet light, and dietary intake. Another part of the research was to compare vitamin D doses of these depressed patients to 96 age- and sex-matched healthy (non-depressed) controls.

Here are the “Enlightening” results and conclusions.

According to the researchers, there was the major (and probably unexpected) finding. Those with depression had significantly lower vitamin D doses compared to age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Thus, the research again proves the efficacy of sunlight (and possibly vitamin D) for reducing depression. Nevertheless, there was a more important conclusion as stated by the investigators. “While dietary intakes of vitamin D were equal in both groups, patients with depression appeared to have statistically significantly less vitamin D from solar ultraviolet B.” This statement is of transcendent importance due to the establishment of an important fact. That fact is that a superior form of vitamin D results from sun exposure.

Other points to remember regarding sunlight and depression.

In addition to this study, numerous other investigations corroborate the efficacy of sun exposure for ameliorating depression. Serotonin is a potent “upper” that improves mood almost immediately. Sunlight produces Serotonin when it enters the eyes.

The most impressive study on serotonin, sunlight and depression.

Dr. Gavin Lambert did one of the most important studies on serotonin. He and his colleagues measured serotonin levels in response to varying degrees of sunlight. To do so, they drew blood samples from the internal jugular veins of 101 men and compared the serotonin concentrations of the blood to weather conditions and seasons. The remarkable results: Men measured on a bright day produced eight times more serotonin, compared to those measured on a dismal day. Of course, the mood improved due to sunlight, with no involvement whatsoever of vitamin D. Thus, regular, non-burning sun exposure is the answer to depression. In addition, remember that sun exposure also leads to the production of other mood enhancers such as nitric oxide, endorphin and dopamine.

Sunlight and health for all

For more information regarding sunlight and depression, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Sunshine for health

 

Happy sunning!

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Tuberculosis cases rising, sun exposure dropping.

Tuberculosis cases are rising. Embrace the sun! By Marc Sorenson, EdD

tuberculosis sunlight

Tuberculosis and other diseases are reappearing. Sun exposure is diminishing.

The “Biggest Monster’ Is Spreading. Yet, it is Not the Coronavirus, according to the New York Times.

Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people each year, and it is the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide. It is a disease that has caused the death of millions, and evidence of infections date back to about 8,000 BC. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that one-third of the world’s population has tuberculosis. Thus, the Times refers to the disease as the “biggest monster.” That may be true, but antibiotics have never been the answer to Tuberculosis. In addition, the paper indicates that resources used to stop the disease (antibiotics, etc.) have been used to fight Covid-19. Thus, they are scarce. Yet, antibiotics have never been the best answer to tuberculosis. Rather, they serve as a poor substitute for the real answer, which is sunlight.

So, can sunlight quell tuberculosis?

Here is research that should also be of interest to those who love the Sun. In the early 20th century, sun therapy (heliotherapy) treated tuberculosis patients effectively. (Clark, W. Treatment of Bone and joint tuberculosis with Tuberculin and Heliotherapy. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1923;5:721-39.) Dr. Aguste Rollier’s records of 1,129 surgical TB cases showed heliotherapy (sun therapy) cured 87% of “closed cases” and 76% of “open cases.” Hence, among 158 patients with tuberculosis of the hip, 125 were cured and 102 “regained complete recovery of articular function.” Thus, according to one source, “During one period of time, 1,746 of 2,167 tubercular patients under Rollier’s care completely. Consequently, the only failures were among those who had allowed their tuberculosis to enter its most advanced stages.”

The history of Tuberculosis in Bern, Switzerland.

Another study also gave a historical perspective of tuberculosis. It showed how the city of Bern, in Switzerland, obliterated most tuberculosis problems while using lifestyle changes. And those changes included greater access to sun exposure. The authors studied tuberculosis incidence and lifestyle in Bern from 1856-1950. There were three areas of the city assessed due to their historical problems. One was the Black Quarter, where during 1911-1915 there were 550 cases for 100,000 people; the second was the City Center with 327 cases per 100,000 people. The third area was the Outskirts, with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Especially relevant were three living conditions correlating closely to the disease:

  1. The number of persons per room. Thus, a higher number predicted a greater risk of Tuberculosis.
  2. A greater number of rooms without sunlight also predicted a greater risk of Tuberculosis.
  3. In addition, a greater number of windows per apartment predicted a diminished risk of  of the disease.

Hence, the country worked to address these problems by improving living conditions, reducing room crowding, building open-air schools and building sanatoria. As a result, TB risk dropped from 330 cases per 100,000 in 1856 to 33 per 100,000 in 1950—a 90% drop! Sanatoria, by the way, were secluded hospitals specializing in healing through good food, fresh air and sunlight.

 Can we stop the superbugs?

“Superbug” tuberculosis has now entered the U.S. It is nearly 100% antibiotics resistant, which does not bode well, since it could probably cause an immense killer epidemic. There seems to be no answer to the “superbug” causing it. On the other hand, is there an answer? Could the sun provide a solution to this health threat? The superbugs are upon us like a bad horror movie, and when they start to take over the earth, there will be one remedy: UV light from the sun or sun lamps. We should take care to have our defenses set up in advance by enjoying daily sun exposure.

For more information, visit sunlightinstitute.org In addition, read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Happy sunning!

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Jaundice: Sunlight is a boon for the newborn.

Jaundice and sunlight. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.

Jaundice affecting babby

Jaundice is a disorder, usually temporary, that occurs in newborn babies and occasionally adults. It usually is innocuous, but sometimes may be dangerous. At least nine of 19 babies are born with the disease, and it is dangerous only occasionally. It is common in premature newborns, and those babies often manifest the disorder by a yellow skin. Furthermore, the children may manifest yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Most noteworthy, babies at birth have a higher number of red blood cells at birth. Thus, as the excess blood cells break down after birth, they produce a waste product called bilirubin. Due to the yellowish color of Bilirubin, skin and whites of the eyes may change. So, when bilirubin levels become excessive (not necessarily dangerous), jaundice usually manifests itself.

Can Jaundice become dangerous?

 Though it is rare, the answer is yes, and hence, babies with jaundice need careful monitoring. Usually phototherapy with blue light is the treatment and cure of choice. Due to complex devices and medical costs, that method is expensive, especially for families with limited resources or insurance. An article in the Lancet medical journal, states that filtered sunlight can be just as effective, and far less expensive. Blue light treatments and sunlight treatments break down the chemical that causes the problem. Consequently, the baby quickly recovers, and all is well. Yet, if the jaundice does not improve, then a blood transfusion may be necessary.

 It is especially relevant to know that jaundice can occur in adults. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are some of the causes of jaundice in adults:

  • Hemolytic anemias
  • Viruses, including Hepatitis A, chronic Hepatitis B and C, and Epstein-Barr virus infection (infectious mononucleosis)
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Rare genetic metabolic defects.
  • Medicines, including acetaminophen toxicity, penicillins, oral contraceptives, chlorpromazine (Thorazine) and estrogenic or anabolic steroids.
  • Obstruction of bile ducts from gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, gallbladder cancer and pancreatic tumor.

Obviously, adult jaundice is much more dangerous than jaundice in babies, and require the care of medical professionals. Yet, for babies, filtered sunlight may be just what they need.

 For more information on sunlight and health, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Happy sunning!

sunlight can prevent jaundice.

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Bone, vitamin D supplements, and sunlight

Bone, vitamin D supplements, and sunlight By Marc Sorenson, EdD.

Progressive bone osteoporosis with age.

Bone and vitamin D are connected, yet, it may not be in the way you think. It is probably common knowledge that vitamin D is necessary for bone strength, particularly rickets. Yet, beyond rickets, it is not settled science that supplements significantly improve bone strength.

To prove this point, and to cause thoughtful consideration, I call your attention to a meta-analysis of 23 studies. The research assessed change in bone density (BD) from measurement inception to completion of each experiment. The bone densities measured the lumbar spine, femoral neck, total hip, trochanter, total body, or forearm. In addition, all participants took vitamin D supplements.  There was little observable change in BD, so the results were disappointing. Thus, the researchers reported, in conclusion, “Continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate.” Yet, before you give up on vitamin D for bone, let us consider the weakness of the research.

Does bone require much more than 800 IU per day to increase bone strength?

In 10 of the 23 studies cited above, the vitamin D dosage was less than 800 IU per day. This is rather like throwing a packet of food coloring into the sea and expecting the sea to turn red. Direct full-body sunlight during 10-15 minutes can stimulate the skin to produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D. Sunlight is the natural way to obtain vitamin D and numerous other healthful photoproducts. A minuscule dose of 800 IU will probably do little for bone strength. Yet, if the researchers had found studies using 3,000 and 5,000 IU, I could have more easily believed their conclusions. However, I could easily have been wrong, as you will see.

So are there other studies that make contradictory conclusions?

No. Most of the research using high-dose vitamin D supplements also had poor results. They usually resulted in much higher fracture risk for those taking the supplements. This was especially true in those who took large, intermittent doses and or intermittent intramuscular injections. Other data showed that doses of more than 4,000 IU daily are associated with more falls and fractures. In addition, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed an alarming trend. First of all, treatment with vitamin D for 3 years (4000 IU) day was counterproductive. Thus, it resulted in statistically significant lower bone mineral density (BMD) in certain bones. Furthermore, the same was true for 10,000 IU per day.

Are there better ways to keep bone strong?

Sunlight in its whole form is best.

Another factor to consider: vitamin D supplements may not be the same as vitamin D made by the human body. The skin always makes natural vitamin D for humans during exposure to sunlight and other sources of UVB light. Irradiating sheep’s lanolin produces the Vitamin D for supplements. Therefore, although 20,000 IU of vitamin D in 20 minutes is possible from sun exposure, the results are very different.  Skin-produced vitamin D from sun exposure does not result in increased fracture risk and lower BMD.

The Spanish study on bone and sunlight

An important study from Spain shows that those who actively sought sun exposure had only 1/11 the risk of hip fracture compared to those who were not sun seekers! In this case, the sun-seeking people must have produced remarkable quantities of vitamin D. They also they increased bone strength remarkably.  In addition, we know that the high vitamin D levels certainly caused no problem with bone density and bone strength! How can this be if high doses of vitamin D supplements lead to increased fracture rates? The difference, in my opinion, is the source.

Sun deprivation leads to bone fracture.

Lessons learned, and conclusions

Therefore, we may take away important lessons from this treatise. First, vitamin D produced by sunlight is not the same as vitamin D from a pill. Moreover, vitamin D is a primary photoproduct of sun exposure. There is an exceptional difference between a pill produced from lanolin and a photoproduct produced in response to sunlight. If sun exposure can produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D, and it increases bone strength, something is awry with vitamin supplements, which decrease bone strength. We have produced evidence that show vitamin D supplements may increase bone fragility.  It is time to accept the sun or other source of light as the major source of bone strength. That other source could be sunlamps or tanning beds.

A synopsis on bone and sunlight.

Finally, we must realize that sun exposure produces many photoproducts beyond vitamin D. Serotonin, endorphin, nitric oxide; brain-derived-neurotropic factor (BDNF) and dopamine are some of those photoproducts. All of them are vital to human health. Who is to say that these photoproducts do not form a synergistic relationship with sun-produced vitamin D to create the miracle of hip-fracture reduction? Do not neglect your regular, non-burning sun exposure. It may save your bones and your life.

Read more by visiting the Sunlight Institute, and read the book by Sorenson and Grant, Embrace the Sun.  Happy Sunning!Read Embrace the Sun

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Blondes live longer in Sweden. Is sunlight the key?

Blondes or brunettes live longer?Blondes and Sunlight. By Marc Sorenson, EdD

Blondes, according to recent research, have longer life spans, and sunlight “could be” the key.blondes or brunettes live longer

The study involved 29,518 Caucasian women aged 25 to 64, and followed for 25 years, determined their risk of skin cancer and death. Therefore, the researchers formed two groups in the incipient stages of the investigation. Thus, one group was a “fair” group, or blondes, meaning they had red hair or freckles. Another group was the “non-fair” or non-blonde group and served as a control. Furthermore, the researchers matched each person in the fair group with someone in the non-fair group, during the 25-year period. This matching included similar age, smoking habits, education, marital status, and income. The main outcome desired was a comparison of all-cause death (mortality) and mortality from skin cancer in the two groups.

Who lived longer, blondes or non-blondes?The researchers showed that the blondes had significantly lower all-cause death. Still, they had a higher mortality from skin cancer.

Contrasted and compared to the non-blondes, the blondes had significantly reduced all-cause death. What could be the reason for the reduced mortality? One might surmise that sunlight probably played a part. Yet, sunlight was not a focus of this investigation.

Nevertheless, it is especially relevant that these researchers, in a 20-year study on sunlight, showed other surprising results. In a study on sunlight exposure, they demonstrated an amazing fact.  They showed that low sun exposure habits were approximately as dangerous as smoking. This was probably due to reduction in cardiovascular disease (heart and vessel disease) among those who soaked up more sun.

Why might light-skinned people have an advantage?

Those who have lighter skins make vitamin D and other important sunlight photoproducts at a rapid rate. Some of those photoproducts are nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, and BDNF. Furthermore, all of those photoproducts are essential to human health. So could this be the reason that blondes lived longer than non-blondes? For more information on the effects of these photoproducts, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Read Embrace the Sun

A final, salient point regarding sunlight, blondes and skin cancer:

A most noteworthy thought: people who have light skins and/or freckles are already at dramatically increased skin-cancer risk. Thus, it is light skin, freckles and moles that increase skin cancer; it is not sunlight. If the blondes group had accumulated more sunlight exposure, It might have actually protected them from skin cancer. Read more about how sun prevents skin cancer in Embrace the Sun. Regular, non-burning sun exposure is vital.

Happy sunning!

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Vitamin D, prostate cancer and sunlight

Vitamin D, prostate cancer and sunlight By Marc Sorenson, EdD

vitamin D prostate

Vitamin D is a magnificent, critically important photoproduct of sun exposure, sun lamps and sunbeds (tanning beds). It is not really a vitamin, but rather a hormone that controls hundreds of genes in the body. The production of this hormone occurs in the skin in response to UVB light from the aforementioned sources. About 90% of vitamin D blood levels, across the average population in the U.S., occurs through sun stimulation to skin. Supplements and food sources provide only a small amount of vitamin D on average.

Vitamin D and other cancers, including prostate cancer (PC)

There is a close association of high vitamin D levels and lowered risk of breast cancer and many other cancers. Therefore, it seems logical that supplementation might also reduce PC risk. However, it seems like that may not be the case, and it needs further discussion. In fact, vitamin D studies show only weak correlations between vitamin D levels and a reduction in PC. The highest levels of serum vitamin D shows a J-shaped curve, meaning those levels actually associated to a slightly increased risk. No such increase occurs with the highest levels of sunlight exposure–quite the opposite. The highest levels of sunlight associated to the highest levels of protection against PC.

An interesting study on sunlight, vitamin D and prostate cancer.

It was with interest, therefore, that I read a recent article describing the effect of sunlight on PC, called “Sunlight could decrease prostate cancer risk.” After affirming that sunlight exposure could reduce the risk of PC by 50%, the author unfortunately stated, “This does not mean men should deliberately sunbathe to reduce their risk of prostate cancer. Outdoor exercise and an adequate amount of vitamin D from diet should be sufficient to afford protection from the disease.” Yet, this is not a statement based on science, especially considering the J-shaped curve. Thus, the author obviously assumed vitamin D caused the association of sun exposure to reduced PC risk.

Now, let’s talk about some impressive studies on sunlight per se.

Vitamin D prostate

 Here are some rather interesting studies regarding sun exposure and PC. In addition, there are numerous others discussed in the book, Embrace the Sun. Probably the most stunning paper was one in which researchers used childhood sunburn as a measure of sun exposure.  As a result, they determined that men who experienced sunburns as children were protected against PC. Consequently, they had one-fifth the risk of contracting prostate cancer as those who had not sunburned! However, please do not burn!

 Let us be careful about our sunlight!

 In addition, a note of caution regarding sunburn: I do not recommend that anyone sunburn to prevent prostate cancer. The researchers used sunburn to predict higher vitamin D levels. Yet, sunburn is not necessary to achieve the remarkable results, since non-burning sun is sufficient. Most noteworthy, this research also demonstrated that men with the lowest sunlight exposure had more than three times the risk of prostate cancer. A follow-up to this study was also interesting. Men in the lowest quartile of sunbathing had a 5.3-fold greater risk of prostate cancer compared with men in the highest quartile.

A final thought

One more paper, cited in conclusion. Researchers have stated, “Higher levels of cumulative sun exposure, adult sunbathing, childhood sunburn and regular sunny holidays in hot climates were each independently and significantly associated with a reduced risk of this [prostate] cancer.”

Men, protect your prostate by obtaining plenty of non-burning, regular sun exposure.

For more information on myriad positive sun articles, visit http://sunlightinstitute.org/ and read the book, Embrace the Sun, by Sorenson and Grant.

sunlight reduces prostate cancer

Happy sunning! Sunshine and Prostate

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Sunshine and Greenspace: major answers to health

Sunshine and Greenspace, by Marc Sorenson, EdD.

A part of my life, albeit I did not fully savor nor appreciate them.

Sunshine and greenspace should Sunlight and Greenspacebe loved by all. Greenspace is an area of grass, trees, or other vegetation set apart for recreational or aesthetic purposes. In my case, there was not much winter participation outdoors and there was not much green. There was school study inside, snow and ice outside and not much greenery. Thus, thus colds and other irritating illnesses ruled my life. In summers, I spent my life on our ranch, working hay fields, chasing cattle bare-chested and doing other sundry chores. In addition, “green” was all around me in summer, since green fields of alfalfa corn and grass were ubiquitous. Consequently, my health was perfect! Of course, because of the Sunshine that blazed much of the day, there were other benefits. I was the recipient of nitric oxide, dopamine, circadian-rhythm entrainment, serotonin, endorphin, BDNF and vitamin D. King Kong could not have felt much better than I felt.

It is apodictic that my good feelings and perfect physical rhythms were due to sunshine and greenspace. Yet, I believe I could have chosen to be outside more in the winter.

My parents raised me on the Utah/Nevada border. Hence, there was plenty of snow, but also plenty of sun in the winter. The nearby mountains and evergreen forests furnished a lot of green year-round. UVA light, lacking in the capacity to produce vitamin D, produces nitric oxide, serotonin and helps to reset the circadian rhythms. It might have enhanced my dark mood in winter. Nevertheless, due to my distaste of cold weather, I stayed inside to study and spent time in the gym.

It was not until much later that I learned the value of sunshine and greenspace.

Sunlight and health for all

Now it seems like there are a plethora of studies that praise the value of greenspace. I added the word “sunshine” in this paper because of my belief that majority of the benefits occur due to sunlight. The most eye opening and impressive of those studies is one called, The Health Benefits of the Great Outdoors. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Greenspace Exposure and Health Outcomes. It was a meta-analysis (highly respected and statistically believable). In addition, it used data from 103 observational and 40 interventional studies. It also measured 100 different health outcomes for people who participated (or did not) in greenspace areas and activities.  

The remarkable results and health benefits of the great outdoors.

Here are the highly impressive and significant results of increased greenspace exposure.

Greenspaces associated with reduced risk of the following measurements:

  • Salivary cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone).
  • heart rate (-2.7 bpm)
  • diastolic blood pressure (-1.97)
  • HDL cholesterol (-.003)
  • Low-frequency heart rate variability (-.06)
  • pre-term birth (-13)
  • type II diabetes (-.28)
  • All-cause mortality (-.31)
  • Small size for gestational age (-.19)
  • Cardiovascular mortality (-.16)

In addition, there was an increased incidence of good self-reported health.

The researchers also reported, “The incidence of stroke, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, asthma, and coronary heart disease were reduced.” “For several non-pooled health outcomes, between 66.7% and 100% of studies showed health-denoting associations with increased greenspace exposure including neurological and cancer-related outcomes, and respiratory mortality.”

Save the Children!

Protect the children with sunlight

In conclusion, one recent study on children shows that mental health problems, addiction, and neurotic or stress related disorders reduced between 40-50%. This same study showed that greenspace appeared to lower the risk of personality disorders, bipolar and mood disorders, and schizophrenia.

The message of course, is to get outdoors where it is green. Then, sunshine and greenspace can work together for wonderful health benefits.

For the research on the magnificent health affects of regular, non-burning sun exposure, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book Embrace the Sun, by Sorenson and Grant.

Sunshine and greenspace

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Alzheimer’sBDNFblood pressurebonebreast cancercancercircadian rhythmdeathdepressiondiabetesendorphinhealthheart diseaseHypertensioninflammationkidsmelanomametabolic syndromemoodMSmultiple sclerosismyopianitric oxideobesityosteoporosispregnancyprostate cancerpsoriasisserotoninskin cancerStrokesummersunsunburnsun exposuresunlightSunlight exposuresunscreensunshinetanning bedsUVUVAUVBvitamin dvitamin D deficiency