Tag Archives: blood pressure

Health Benefits of Tanning Beds shown in new Study.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute, for sensible tanning bed use

The online magazine, Life Science Daily, just posted an article regarding the health benefits of UV light from tanning beds. Surprisingly, they were quoting from research published in the British Journal of Dermatology. I say “surprising,” because so many dermatologists and dermatological organizations are vehemently opposed to a single ray of sunlight touching the skin. And heaven forbid someone should use a tanning bed.

Three times weekly, adult subjects were exposed to a tanning bed that emitted 95% UVA rays and 5% UVB rays, which is approximately the amount of UVA and UVB that midday summer sunlight emits. Each exposure lasted six minutes. Here are some of the salient points reported in the article:

  • Any damage caused by the light exposure was repaired by the by the skin.
  • One of the positive benefits of the light was the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
  • Another positive benefit was the productions of beta-endorphins, which reduce depression.
  • A third benefit, of course, is the production of vitamin D, necessary for growth and bone strength, as well as asthma prevention.

Here is one of the important quotes from the article, from Dr. Michael Holick:  “What this study shows is that you can get a reasonable amount of sunlight that would make enough vitamin D in your skin living in the U.K. Yes, the DNA is somewhat damaged, but because the body has adapted to its environment, it has the ability to repair it.”  Dr. Holick also suggested that people become educated about the wide range of health benefits from modest sun exposure, which is superior to taking vitamin D supplements.

Step by step, the truth is overcoming the powers of darkness! Seek the sun, and let a tanning bed enhance your health in the winter.

Click here to read the article. https://lifesciencedaily.com/stories/19743-study-shows-health-benefits-non-burning-exposure-uv-light/

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High blood pressure (Hypertension). Is it caused by low vitamin D levels, sun deprivation or both?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute… promoting safe sun exposure…

It has long been known that vitamin D deficiency is associated with hypertension. But could that association really be a measurement of inadequate sun exposure? A most interesting investigation was carried out this month (July 2016) in which the researchers evaluated over 1100 subjects from an ongoing study called “the Reasons for Racial and Geographic Differences in Stroke.” They measured vitamin D levels and also assessed sun exposure levels, and found that both high vitamin D levels and high sun exposure levels were associated with higher blood pressure.[1]

What makes this research different is that when the data was adjusted for other factors, high sun exposure was even more impressive as a protective factor against high blood pressure. However, adjusting for vitamin D levels had no effect on the association of sun exposure to lower blood pressure; for each increase in sun exposure, there was a corresponding decrease in blood pressure, but the same was not true for increases or decreases in vitamin D levels.

The researchers made this statement: “We conclude that although 25(OH)D concentration is inversely associated with SBP, it did not explain the association of greater sunlight exposure with lower BP.”

To me, this research indicates that sun exposure directly effects lower blood pressure levels, independently of vitamin D. This is not surprising, since clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation have found only small effects on blood pressure.[2]

I hypothesize that nitric oxide (NO), is the mechanism by which sun exerts its impressive effects. NO is a potent vasodilator, and when it is released into the arteries by UVA stimulation, causes increased blood flow and lowers blood pressure.[3] [4] Dr. Oplander and his colleagues wrote the first paper on the UVA, NO and blood pressure in 2009,[5] and Dr. Richard Weller has been a leader in doing research and granting interviews on NO since that time. He has made two interesting statements: (1) “We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sun will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sun.”[6] (2) “Although the benefits of sun are often attributed to vitamin D, a gas called nitric oxide is also important. Made when the sun hits our skin, nitric oxide lowers blood pressure when it enters the bloodstream. Although the reduction is small, it could ‘make a big difference.”[7]

A study from China also demonstrates that exposure to sun correlates to a lowered risk of hypertension.[8] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sun exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sun exposure per day compared to none predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension.

Vitamin D has many marvelous health effects, but sun exposure per se has many more, because not only does the sun stimulate the production on vitamin D, it also produces other vital photoproducts such as NO, endorphins and serotonin. When we avoid the sun and simply take a vitamin D pill, we are short-changing ourselves for the total package of benefits derived from the sun. And in the case of high blood pressure, we may be receiving almost no benefit from vitamin D. Think about it, and enjoy the sun safely.

[1] Rostand SG, McClure LA, Kent ST, Judd SE, Gutiérrez OM. Associations of blood pressure, sunlight, and vitamin D in community-dwelling adults. J Hypertens. 2016 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]

[2] Beveridge LA, Struthers AD, Khan F, Jorde R, Scragg R, Macdonald HM, Alvarez JA, Boxer RS. Et. al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Incorporating Individual Patient Data. AMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):745-54.

[3] Liu D, Fernandez BO, Hamilton A, Lang NN, Gallagher JM, Newby DE, Feelisch M, Weller RB. UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46.

[4] D Liu, BO Fernandez, NN Lang, JM Gallagher, DE Newby, M Feelisch and RB Weller. UVA lowers blood pressure and vasodilates the systemic arterial vasculature by mobilization of cutaneous nitric oxide stores. Photobiology Abstract # 1247 May 2013.

[5] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, Heiss C, Kelm M, Halmer D, Mürtz M, Pallua N, Suschek CV.. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.

[6] Quoted on Mercola.com  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/15/sun-exposure.aspx accessed July 2, 2015.

[7] Weller, R. Shunning the sun may be killing you in more ways than you think. New Scientist July 2, 2015.

[8] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X, Van F, Leong S, Lau W, Lueng P, Kowk C, Li Y, Mason RS, Brock KE. Modifiable risk factors including sun exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

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Sun Exposure, Nitric Oxide and Vitamin D for improved Athletic Performance

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute…

A most interesting research paper demonstrates that nitrate supplements, combined with exposure to sunlight, increases performance of cyclists.[1] The researchers state that “dietary nitrate supplementation has been shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) metabolites, reduce blood pressure (BP) and enhance exercise performance.” And, as we have discussed in this blog, sun exposure reduces BP by increasing the production of NO. It was theorized that sun exposure might enhance the athletic performance induced by the dietary nitrate supplementation.

The theory proved to be correct; although sun exposure did not improve cycling times by itself, when combined with the nitrate supplementation, cycling times improved significantly.

It may surprise some people to realize that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sun beds or sun lamps has been used since before 1950 to enhance athletic performance.[2] As early as 1938, Russian researchers reported that a course of UVR significantly improved speed in the 100-meter dash among four students when compared with controls that did not have the radiation, although both groups were undergoing identical daily training.[3] The non-irradiated group improved by 1.7% but the irradiated group improved by 7.4%. Another study conducted over ten weeks showed that cardiovascular endurance improved remarkably among athletes in training who were irradiated vs. those who were not.[4] The irradiated athletes improved by 19.2% compared to 1.5% among the non-irradiated group.

There are numerous studies from Germany showing the efficacy of UVR on athletic performance, most of them from the early days before the idea of sun-lamp produced UVR fell into disrepute because of the attack on tanning beds. What a shame. This method of athletic assistance could produce an impressive improvement in sports performance for so many people, athletic or not. Strength improves, stamina improves, quickness improves and speed improves with UVR radiation, which of course is also part of sunlight. The mechanism for this improvement is likely a combination of vitamin D and nitric oxide.

Safely enjoy the sun!

 

 

 

[1] Muggeridge DJ, Sculthorpe N, Grace FM, Willis G, Thornhill L, Weller RB, James PE, Easton C. Acute whole body UVA irradiation combined with nitrate ingestion enhances time trial performance in trained cyclists. Nitric Oxide. 2015 Aug 1;48:3-9.

[2] Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Sorenson MB, Taft TN, Anderson JJ. Athletic performance and vitamin D. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):1102-10.

[3] Gorkin Z. Gorkin MJ, Teslenko NE. The effect of ultraviolet radiation upon training for the 100-meter sprint.

[4] Allen R, Cureton T. Effects of ultraviolet radiation on physical fitness. Arch Phys Med 1945;10:641-4.

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Sun Exposure reduces Cardiovascular Disease independently of Vitamin D.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute…

Dr. Richard Weller, a dermatologist and champion of sun exposure, has just published a review stating that sun exposure has cardiovascular benefits independent of vitamin D.[1] This is good news for those who fear having a heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease, of course, is our number-one killer. Dr. Weller make several points in his review, as follows:

  1. Individuals with high serum vitamin D levels are at reduced risk of hypertension (chronic high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors including abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels, high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance) that are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
  2. However, multiple research reports show that oral vitamin D supplementation has no effect on those problems.
  3. But, epidemiological studies data show a correlation between increased sun exposure and reduced hypertension and death from cardiovascular disease.
  4. Scandinavian studies show a dose dependent fall in mortality (death) with sun-seeking behavior. In other words, the higher the sun exposure, the lower the risk of death from all causes. In fact, those with the highest sun exposure had half the risk of death as those with the lowest exposure
  5. The reduced risk of death among sun seekers is probably due to the nitric-oxide increasing effects of sun exposure.
  6. The higher the latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, the greater is the blood pressure. Populations at higher latitudes have far less sun exposure that those at low latitudes.
  7. In one study of risk factors for atheroma (plugging of the arteries), latitude was found to be the strongest predictor.

This is another potent argument for getting your share of the sun; it could save your life.

 

[1] Richard B. Weller. Sunlight Has Cardiovascular Benefits Independently of Vitamin D Blood Purif 2016;41:130–134.

 

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Sleep Deprivation, Metabolic Syndrome and Sunlight

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

It is becoming increasingly obvious that lack of sleep is a major risk factor for human health. In a recent study reported in the journal Sleep Medicine,[i] 2579 adults without metabolic syndrome, were assessed for sleep habits for 2.6 years to determine their risk of developing metabolic syndrome, also known as Met S. Met S is a group of metabolic disorders (high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels and insulin resistance) that are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The participants were aged between 40 and 70 years.

Those who slept and average of less than 6 hours daily were 41% more likely to develop Met S than those who slept 6-7.9 hours. Among the measurements that were particularly concerning, were a 30% increased risk of high blood glucose and excess belly fat (both indications of future diabetes), and a 56% higher risk of high blood pressure. The researchers concluded that “Short sleep duration is an independent risk factor for incident metabolic syndrome in a population-based longitudinal study.”

Indeed, Lack of sleep can be deadly. Forbes Magazine online ran an excellent article on sunlight and sleep,[ii] in which they stated the following statistics: “In 2012, 60 Million Americans filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, up from 46 million in 2006.” The article discusses the potential dangers of sleep medications, showing that those who take 18 pills per year have a tripling of the risk of death compared to those who take fewer than that 18. It then describes the results of research showing that people whose workplaces have windows are able to sleep about 46 minutes per night more than those who have no natural light access.  Those who had more exposure to sunlight also were generally happier, had fewer ailments and experienced better vitality than their counterparts without windows.

Many individuals have difficulty sleeping long and soundly enough to feel refreshed. A study by Dr. Julie Gammack exposed test subjects to 30-60 minutes per day of direct sunlight, and according to the Saint Louis University health web site, “Nursing home patients who were exposed to natural light had improved sleep quality, less difficulty falling asleep, fewer episodes of wakefulness during the night and greater satisfaction with the amount of sleep they got.”[iii] Other research by Dr. Ayoub and colleagues in Alexandria, Egypt demonstrated that there were several factors associated with insomnia among the elderly. [iv] Having five or more diseases was associated with a 7.5 times increased risk, anxiety was associated with a 1.9 times increased risk, and depression with a 1.74 times increased risk. There was only one factor that reduced risk. Sunlight exposure was associated with 43% reduced risk. Likely, this was due to the production of serotonin and melatonin due to sunlight exposure (see the last paragraph. Other research has shown that sleep disturbances are more common in sub-arctic areas during the dark time of the year.[v] The message? If one wants to sleep well, sunlight exposure during the day is imperative.

This research on windows is particularly interesting because the effects of sunlight in that case could have had nothing to do with vitamin D, since the sunlight exposure came through windows, which block the UVB light that produces vitamin D. It is likely that the positive effects of sunlight in this case were produced by increasing serotonin levels (a natural mood enhancer) in the brain during the sunlight exposure, and then allowing melatonin (a natural relaxer) during the night.

Lack of sleep is a common, and perhaps deadly, malady. The sun is not our enemy, but a vital friend. Embrace it, but do not burn.

[i] Jang-Young Kim, Dhananjay Yadav, Song Vogue Ahn, , Sang-Baek Koh. A prospective study of total sleep duration and incident metabolic syndrome: the ARIRANG study. Sleep Medicine 2015;16:1511-1515.

[ii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/06/18/to-get-more-sleep-get-more-sunlight/

[iii] Gammack, J. Quoted in Medical News Today, April 10, 2005.

[iv] Ayoub AI, Attia M, El Kady HM, Ashour A. Insomnia among community dwelling elderly in Alexandria, Egypt. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2014 Dec;89(3):136-42.

[v] Bratlid T, Wahlund B. Alterations in serum melatonin and sleep in individuals in a sub-arctic region from winter to spring. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2003 Sep;62(3):242-54.

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Sunlight is the Best Blood Pressure Med: the Positive Evidence Mounts, Part One.

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–

 

From Science Daily, research is reported on the ability of sunlight exposure to effectively lower blood pressure.[i] The research, reported earlier by Dr. Richard Weller, is not really new, but it is good to see that it is receiving more press. Even more important is the fact that Dr. Weller is a dermatologist. The study was conducted by exposing the skin of 24 healthy volunteers to ultraviolet light from tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each. In one session, they were exposed to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and the heat from the lamps; in another, the UVA rays were blocked so that only the heat was applied. Blood pressure was lowered by UVA exposure, but not by heat alone.

It has been known for some time that nitric oxide (NO) is produced by the skin in response to sunlight. NO is a potent vasodilator that relaxes the vessels and allows blood pressure to drop. Therefore, the sunlight, or tanning lamps, both of which emit UBA, become useful tools for lowering blood pressure.

It is important to note that these results were achieved with no increase in vitamin D levels. Therefore, sunlight stands on its own in reducing blood pressure. This is not to negate the positive influence of vitamin D; it is a critical factor in reducing the risk of myriad diseases. My ongoing searches of the medical and scientific literature, however, have persuaded me that most studies that assess the influence of sunlight alone are more impressive in preventing disease than those that assess only vitamin D blood levels or supplementation.

Dr. Feelisch, one of the investigators, stated the following: “These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process. It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

More on this subject will follow. In the meantime, allow yourself safe, non-burning exposure to the sun.



[i] University of Southampton (2014, January 17). Here comes the sun to lower your blood pressure. Science Daily. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2014/01/140117090139.htm.

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Sunlight is the Best Blood Pressure Med: the Positive Evidence Mounts, Part Two.

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–

 

In the last post, I made the point that sunlight, through the stimulation of nitric oxide (NO) production in the skin, created a vasodilating effect in healthy volunteers that led to lower blood pressure. It was also noted that the effect of sunlight on blood pressure was not due to vitamin D production and circulation, since there was no change in vitamin D levels during the investigation.

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension, and a recent study from China demonstrates that exposure to sunlight correlates to a lowered risk of that disease.[1] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sunlight exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sunlight exposure per day compared to none predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension. Oily fish consumption more than four times per week predicted a 60% reduced risk; daily moderate physical activity compared to no physical activity predicted a 20% reduced risk; being obese compared to normal weight predicted 4.6 times the risk of hypertension, and heavy smoking predicted 1.4 times the risk.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart and other vascular diseases, which are the number-one killers in western societies. Isn’t it time we made a few lifestyle changes that could profoundly reduce the risk of these diseases? The efforts to Frighten people out of the sunlight, coupled with the move to indoor living, have created unquestionable health disasters. We need to once again learn to enjoy safe, non-burning sun exposure.


[1] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X et al. Modifiable risk factors including sunlight exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

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