By Marc Sorenson, EdD
A new article on November 30, 2015, from the Daily Mail, discusses breaking research on the association between ED and vitamin D. The research from Johns Hopkins University, by Dr. Erin Michos and her colleagues, was conducted on 3,400 men over age 20, 30% of whom were vitamin D deficient, and 16% of whom reported symptoms of ED. Men with Vitamin D deficiency were 32% more likely to suffer ED than those whose levels were sufficient.
Although I, along with Dr. Grant, were the first to hypothesize that vitamin D deficiency could lead to ED, I have moderated my opinion somewhat. It is entirely possible that higher vitamin D levels are really a surrogate measurement for sunlight exposure. Although vitamin D probably has a positive affect on ED, the UVA portion of sunlight has a nearly immediate effect in dilating the blood vessels through the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is absolutely necessary for producing an erection. Viagra and other ED drugs work by inhibiting the breakdown of NO, which keeps NO in circulation for a longer period. But, they don’t always work and can have many deleterious side effects.
My hope is that research will be done to determine the effectiveness of sunlight exposure in alleviating the condition. Of course, the underlying cause of ED is consuming foods that occlude the arteries. Sunlight and/or vitamin D serve as palliatives to that occlusion, as do the ED drugs. A nutrition program filled with colorful fruits and vegetables,[i] along with ample sunlight exposure, would, in my opinion, produce the very best results in mitigating or perhaps reversing the disease.
[i] Esposito K, Giugliano F, Maiorino MI, Giugliano D. Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med. 2010 Jul;7(7):2338-45.
To read the Daily Mail article, please click this link. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3321000/Could-daily-dose-vitamin-D-cure-erectile-dysfunction-Deficiency-means-man-32-likely-impotent.html
 Sorenson M, Grant WB. Does vitamin D deficiency contribute to erectile dysfunction? Dermato-Endocrinology 4;2:128–136.
 Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, et al. 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.
 Burnett AL. The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2006 Dec;8(12 Suppl 4):53-62
 Nitric Oxide and Viagra (no authors listed) Concepts in Biochemistry (accessed on November 30, 2015) at http://www.wiley.com/college/boyer/0470003790/cutting_edge/viagra/viagra.htm.
Recently, I posted that sunlight exposure, coupled with blueberry consumption, may be a better option than Viagra in terms of overcoming erectile dysfunction (ED) but never mentioned that there might be a further association with Viagra and melanoma. Research now indicates a surprising newcomer to the melanoma equation: the use of sildenafil (Viagra) increases the invasiveness of melanoma cells, which may raise the risk of the disease. In a study that was begun in 2000 and reported in 2014, it was found that recent use of Viagra was associated with an 84% increased risk of melanoma and that ever use of the drug was associated with a 92% risk. And among those who had no major chronic diseases at baseline, the risk was 124% higher for those who recently used the drug and 177% higher among those who had ever used the drug.
Noxious chemicals have many side effects, but who would have guessed that an ED drug would increase the risk of melanoma? Remember also that we have presented information showing that melanoma is not caused by regular sunlight exposure, and that sunlight is in fact protective against that disease. Sunlight, therefore, is a better choice for the prevention of both melanoma and ED.
 Li WQ, Qureshi AA, Robinson K, Han J. Sildenafil use and increased risk of incident melanoma in US men: a prospective cohort study. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jun;174(6):964-70C
Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute.
Anything that causes arterial plugging or prevents the relaxation of blood vessels can contribute to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Poor diet, little exercise and lack of sunlight exposure form a combination that devastates vessel health and reduces the flexibility of those vessels. Among the CVD are ischemic heart disease, intermittent claudication (painful oxygen restriction to the legs), ischemia of the brain leading to strokes, peripheral artery disease and erectile dysfunction. Yes, I said erectile dysfunction.
ED is considered one of the major predictors of CVD.[i] It is caused by inability of the corpus cavernosa, two cylindrical chambers that run the length of the penis, to become engorged with blood, causing erection. When the process takes place normally, the cavernosa are stimulated by nitric oxide (NO), they then relax, and blood flows into the penis, allowing erection to take place. Therefore, erection is a vascular event.[ii] The same effect is seen in blood pressure decreases caused by NO after sunlight exposure. Ultraviolet A (UVA) light stimulation of the skin causes the release of NO from pre-formed stores of NO in the skin. NO is a potent vasodilator, and when it is released into the arteries by UVA stimulation, causes increased blood flow and lowers blood pressure.[iii] The mechanism is much the same in both instances. This is another example of sunlight enhancing health without the benefit of vitamin D. UVA light, that stimulates nitric oxide release, does not stimulate the skin to produce vitamin D.
An early study assessed the affect of ultraviolet light (UV) exposure to cavernosal strips, which were obtained from men during penile prosthetic surgery.[iv] The strips showed relaxation in response to UV, and the relaxation increased with the duration of exposure. We expect that sunbathing, which would profoundly increase NO in the circulation, would also vasodilate the cavernosa to allow erection. The same nitric oxide mechanism that lowers blood pressure, would seem to be a good method to treat ED. After all, drugs for ED, such as Viagra and Cialis, work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide.[v] Sunlight is free and is a much better choice.
[i] Pastuszak AW, Hyman DA, Yadav N, Godoy G, Lipshultz LI, Araujo AB, Khera M. Erectile dysfunction as a marker for cardiovascular disease diagnosis and intervention: a cost analysis. J Sex Med 2015 Apr;12(4):975-84.
[ii] Marc Sorenson and William B. Grant. Does vitamin D deficiency contribute to erectile dysfunction? Dermatoendocrinol 2012 Apr 1; 4(2): 128–136.
[iii] 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.
[iv] Kim SC, Oh CH, Park JK, Lee MY, Uhm DY. Effects of ultraviolet light on the tension of isolated human cavernosal smooth muscle from non-diabetic and diabetic impotent men. Urol Res. 1997;25(2):149-52.
[v] Mayo Clinic Online. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/in-depth/erectile-dysfunction/art-20047821. Accessed July 3, 2015.
Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute
The Daily Mail, from the UK, recently posted an article regarding sunlight and fertility that should catch some interest.
Infertility is a problem that causes some couples to seek help from in vitro fertilization (IVF). New research shows that sunlight exposure for a month prior to the procedure increase the odds of success by 35%. Dr. Frank Vandekerckhove, who reported the research, looked at the IVF results of about 6,000 women and compared the dates of their treatment with weather conditions. The more sunshine, the greater likelihood of becoming pregnant. Dr. Vandekerckhove said that sunshine a month before conception probably helped a woman’s eggs to mature. He also mentioned that there is no reason to think that a burst of sunshine won’t also help women trying to get pregnant naturally.
There is nothing really new about the effects of sunlight on fertility, and this work by Vandekerckhove is not the first to establish the link of sunlight to IVF. Much has also been studied regarding natural, non- laboratory fertility. Low vitamin D, which is primarily a result of low sunlight exposure, is closely related to the ability to conceive in both women and men. Couples spend thousands of dollars on fertility clinics and IVF when perhaps all they need is some time in the sun.
In an article posted on Emax health, entitled Sex in the Sun May Increase Your Fertility it is pointed out that approximately 15% of couples who want to conceive are plagued by problems of fertility. Drs. Elisabeth Lerchbaum and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, in 2012, conducted a review of articles on vitamin D and fertility and came to these conclusions: “VDR knockout mice [mice whose vitamin D doesn’t work due to inability to link to receptors at the cellular level] have significant gonadal insufficiency, decreased sperm count and motility, and histological abnormalities of testis, ovary and uterus.” They also point out that vitamin D is involved in female reproduction—including IVF outcome, so it is a bit surprising that the article in the Daily Mail gave the impression that the research by Vandekerckhove was a totally new concept.
The review also stated that in men, higher vitamin D levels are positively associated with semen quality and androgen (male hormone) status, and that vitamin D treatment might increase testosterone levels.
One thing that is missing in these excellent studies is any discussion of the production of nitric oxide (NO) by sunlight exposure. NO is a potent vasodilator that is essential for proper erection in men, meaning it relaxes the blood vessels, allowing the blood to pass more easily through the vessels. Without it erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs. Viagra, Cialis and other such ED drugs work through a Nitric Oxide pathway and act by keeping NO in circulation for a longer period. But they don’t work in about one-third of the cases, and the effect diminishes over time, not to mention the side effects such as headaches, body aches and pains, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, vision changes, flushing, congestion and runny nose. Since sunlight exposure increases NO, it is probably a better choice. For those who wish to produce a pregnancy, ED could be a devastating problem, and sunlight may be the answer.
Sunlight exposure has so many positive properties that we may never know them all. Use non-burning sunlight safely. Here’s to a successful pregnancy and a sunny family life!
Vandekerckhove, F. Presentation at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 14 to 17.
 Lerchbaum E1, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Vitamin D and fertility: a systematic review. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 May;166(5):765-7.
 Burnett AL. The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2006 Dec;8(12 Suppl 4):53-62.