By Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute…
Following up on the type-1 diabetes blog posted a short time ago, here is interesting information on the association between low sun exposure and type-1 diabetes:
Consider this: a child in Finland is about 400 times more likely than a child in Venezuela to acquire type-1, and across the globe, there is a marked geographic variation in incidence of the disease, with high latitude countries having the highest incidence and equatorial countries having the lowest incidence. Obviously, the difference in risk of type-one between Finland and Venezuela is due to the quantity of sunlight that exists between the two countries. Sun stimulates the skin to produce vitamin D, so it might be surmised that high vitamin D levels in Venezuela are responsible for the exponentially lower risk. I agree that high vitamin D is an important part of prevention of type-one diabetes. Nonetheless, I don’t believe vitamin D to be the only factor. A 400:1 ratio of disease risk (400 cases in Finland for each one in Venezuela) is far beyond what was accomplished in Vitamin D supplement research in Finland. We also know now, that vitamin D levels are very similar among countries throughout the world, averaging about 21 ng/ml. Therefore, it appears that sun exposure is exceptionally important, beyond its ability to stimulate the production of vitamin D.
Another consideration: high sun exposure has a far more beneficial effect on MS than vitamin D per se. Since both MS and type-1 diabetes are autoimmune diseases, it is likely that sun exposure has its own independent effects in preventing type-one diabetes, as it does with MS. Some of these effects may be due to nitric oxide, endorphins and serotonin, all of which are produced by the body when it is exposed to sunlight. It is becoming increasingly apparent that sunlight has remarkable protective influences on diabetes and many other diseases, independent of vitamin D.
Enjoy the sun, but do it safely.
 Dimitrios Papandreou, Pavlos Malindretos, Zacharoula Karabouta, and Israel Rousso. Possible Health Implications and Low Vitamin D Status during Childhood and Adolescence: An Updated Mini Review.
 Jennifer Hilger, Angelika Friedel, Raphael Herr, Tamara Rausch, Franz Roos, Denys A. Wahl, Dominique D. Pierroz, Peter Weber and Kristina Hoffmann. A systematic review of vitamin D status in populations worldwide. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jan 14;111(1):23-45.