Tag Archives: melatonin

More Truth about Sun Exposure

By Marc Sorenson, EdD… Sun exposure benefits…

A very important paper regarding the necessity for sun exposure has recently been published by the journal Medical Hypothesis.[1] It is entitled Regular sun exposure benefits health, and it discusses the pros and cons of sun exposure. One of the salient statements in the paper is that intermittent sun exposure may increase the risk of skin cancer, whereas regular exposure to sunlight might benefit health. For those of us who have for years studied the beneficial effects of sun exposure, the use of the word “might” is the only drawback to the statement. There is no doubt that for the majority of the population, regular sun exposure absolutely protects and enhances health.

Among the diseases mentioned as being reduced or prevented by regular sun exposure are the following:

  1. Cancers: Colon, breast, prostate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  2. Multiple sclerosis
  3. Hypertension
  4. Diabetes

As the authors mention, most of these positive effects of sun exposure were previously ascribed to Vitamin D, but they point out that immune system function is enhanced by sun exposure beyond the effects of vitamin D, and list other non-vitamin D benefits of the sun, including:

  1. Production of nitric oxide
  2. Production of melatonin
  3. Production of serotonin
  4. Regulation of the circadian clock

I have discussed most of these items on the Sunlight Institute web site, but it was good to see new research that, in particular, separated the health benefits of sun exposure from vitamin D production. The idea that has become popularized during the past decade, that all benefits of sun exposure come from increased vitamin D production, is simply not true and can lead to the supplementation of vitamin D as a “cure” for diseases that may not be influenced by that hormone.

Of course, vitamin D is an exceptionally important photoproduct, and the only natural way to attain it is by exposure to the sun or to other sources of UVB light (such as a sunlamp or a tanning bed). The beauty of using these sources, rather than a vitamin-D capsule, is that all of the benefits of nitric oxide, melatonin, serotonin and circadian entrainment are included in the package.

Safely enjoy the sun, and you then will also safely enjoy better health. Remember not to burn, and to gradually develop a good tan.

[1]  van der Rhee H, de Vries, E, Coebergh, J. Regular sun exposure benefits health. Medical Hypotheses 97 (2016) 34–37

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Chinese Research states that Elderly People need more Sun Exposure!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute… Sun exposure.

New research from China suggests that sun exposure, through vitamin D production, contributes improvements in bone health, mood and cognitive functions. It also says that sun exposure, through the regulation of melatonin also helps to properly establish circadian rhythms, improve sleep quality, and optimizes physical and social activity in the elderly.[1] They might have also mentioned that cognitive decline is much more prevalent among nursing-home residents that do not participate in outdoor activity; those who have 20 or more outdoor activities per month have no decline whatsoever![2]

This is especially important for institutionalized elderly people who tend to spend time in their rooms and asleep in front of the TV. The researchers suggest that the elderly should perform outdoor activities for 20-30 minutes per day, five days per week. They also suggest that the outdoor environment be more accessible to the residents and that some of their programmed activities should be held outdoors.

This is excellent advice and really hits home with me, since my wife and I have a church calling in which we conduct meetings and otherwise take care of the spiritual needs of the residents at an assisted-care facility. We see the physical and mental deterioration that takes place among the people who seldom get outside. We are always suggesting to our charges, and to the people who run the facility, that they get regular sun exposure and eat correctly, both of which would make dramatic differences in their abilities to cope.

Did you know that the risk of being admitted to a nursing home can be predicted by vitamin D levels?  In one investigation, those whose serum vitamin D levels were in the deficient category had three-and-one-half times the risk of being admitted to a nursing home as those whose levels were in the highest category.[3] Of course, people with low vitamin D levels are suffering from sun-exposure deficiency. Let’s take care of our elderly by being sure that they enjoy plenty of safe sun exposure.

[1] Lin TC, Liao YC. The Impact of Sunlight Exposure on the Health of Older Adults. Hu Li Za Zhi. 2016 Aug;63(4):116-22.

[2] Suzuki T, Murase S. Influence of outdoor activity and indoor activity on cognition decline: use of an infrared sensor to measure activity. Telemed J E Health. 2010 Jul-Aug;16(6):686-90

[3]  Visser, M. et al.  Low serum vitamin concentrations of 25 hydroxyvitamin D in older persons and the risk of nursing home admission.  Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:616-22.

 

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Sun Exposure, artificial Light and Weight Control

Sun Exposure, artificial light and weight control. Marc Sorenson, EdD… Sunlight Institute

Sun exposure gives life and has so many positive effects, including anticancer, anti-heart disease, and anti-osteoporosis. Unnatural light, however can do exactly the opposite. In the case of obesity, artificial light at night (ALAN) can lead to weight gain, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.[1]

The hormone melatonin works in conjunction with serotonin during each daily physiological cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Serotonin is a natural “upper” that awakens our senses and prepares us for our workday. Then, when the rhythms are properly synchronized, as evening comes, serotonin decreases and melatonin, a sleep inducer, takes over so that we can sleep soundly and awake refreshed as daylight and serotonin once more take over. However, a monkey wrench is often thrown into the works. It is called artificial light at night (ALAN), and it may be one of many factors that lead to obesity. ALAN inhibits melatonin production, a factor in both obesity and cancer.

The researchers looked at satellite images of 80 countries, assessed the amount of ALAN emitted from each country and then compared the rates of obesity in each. The data was adjusted to take into consideration the differing dietary patterns in each country, as well as the urban vs rural population and other factors that would influence obesity.

The results showed, that after all adjustments, ALAN emerged as a prominent predictor for obesity.

So how does this relate to sun exposure? One of my recent posts noted the results of research on early morning sun exposure and obesity, noting that early sun exposure inhibited obesity dramatically.[2] So not all light is good. Light at night is harmful; early morning sun exposure is wonderful. And if one wants to remain slim, it is imperative to eschew junk food, exercise and get plenty of non-burning sun exposure.

[1] Rybnikova NA, Haim A, Portnov BA. Does artificial light-at-night exposure contribute to the worldwide obesity pandemic? International Journal of Obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 May;40(5):815-23.

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, et al. Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults. PLoS ONE 2014 9(4): e92251. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092251

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Lack of Sunlight may cause Females to become aggressive!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

Serotonin is one of the most potent natural mood enhancers produced in the body. As previously mentioned in one of my blogs, men whose levels of serotonin were measured on a very bright day produced eight times more serotonin than those who were measured on a cloudy, dismal day. Serotonin levels were also seven times higher in summer than winter.[1] Serotonin works in concert with melatonin; serotonin keeps keeps us bright and happy during the sunny day and melatonin lets lets us sleep during the dark night. Unfortunately, lack of sunlight in winter may also lead to too much daytime melatonin production, which may lead to aggressive behavior.

A 2015 report from Proceedings of the Royal Academy B, demonstrated that female rats who had the least sunlight exposure per day displayed the most aggression.[2] A similar increase in aggression was not observed in male rats.

An increase in melatonin was given as the reason for the aggression, since when winter approaches, sunlight decreases and melatonin increases. (Of course, serotonin also decreases, as stated in the aforementioned research.) Melatonin increases aggression, according to this study, by acting on the adrenal glands, causing a release of a hormone called DHEA, which has been consistently been linked to aggression in both mammals and birds.

I’m not entirely convinced that that aggression was not caused more by the drop in serotonin than the increase in melatonin. Either way, you boyfriends and husbands should be sure that your lady love gets plenty of sunlight or other form of UV light every day of the year, or you may be in trouble!

[1] Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.

[2] Proceedings of the Royal Academy B 2015. Reported by Carly St. James, Empire State News. http://www.empirestatenews.net/2015/11/19/a-spike-in-female-aggression-can-be-linked-to-this-seasonal-change/ [accessed November 19, 2015]}

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Lack of Sunlight may cause Females to become aggressive!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

Serotonin is one of the most potent natural mood enhancers produced in the body. As previously mentioned in one of my blogs, men whose levels of serotonin were measured on a very bright day produced eight times more serotonin than those who were measured on a cloudy, dismal day. Serotonin levels were also seven times higher in summer than winter.[1] Serotonin works in concert with melatonin; serotonin keeps keeps us bright and happy during the sunny day and melatonin lets lets us sleep during the dark night. Unfortunately, lack of sunlight in winter may also lead to too much daytime melatonin production, which may lead to aggressive behavior.

A 2015 report from Proceedings of the Royal Academy B, demonstrated that female rats who had the least sunlight exposure per day displayed the most aggression.[2] A similar increase in aggression was not observed in male rats.

An increase in melatonin was given as the reason for the aggression, since when winter approaches, sunlight decreases and melatonin increases. (Of course, serotonin also decreases, as stated in the aforementioned research.) Melatonin increases aggression, according to this study, by acting on the adrenal glands, causing a release of a hormone called DHEA, which has been consistently been linked to aggression in both mammals and birds.

I’m not entirely convinced that that aggression was not caused more by the drop in serotonin than the increase in melatonin. Either way, you boyfriends and husbands should be sure that your lady love gets plenty of sunlight or other form of UV light every day of the year, or you may be in trouble!

[1] Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.

[2] Proceedings of the Royal Academy B 2015. Reported by Carly St. James, Empire State News. http://www.empirestatenews.net/2015/11/19/a-spike-in-female-aggression-can-be-linked-to-this-seasonal-change/ [accessed November 19, 2015]}

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