Sunlight or vitamin D or both? By Marc Sorenson, EdD.
Sunlight or vitamin D? That is a question that should not be necessary, yet many believe that vitamin D replaces sun exposure. So, they will state, “just take some vitamin D pills rather than go out in the sunlight, thus, you can derive sunlight benefits without the risk of skin cancer.” This opinion is incorrect, and it leads to sun deprivation.
This poor opinion of sunlight is misguided, erroneous and dangerous.
First of all, sunlight leads to production of many photoproducts when it touches the skin or enters the eyes. (Do not stare into the sun, since sufficient sun enters the eyes by reflection from objects or from the sky). These photoproducts include serotonin, endorphin, vitamin D, dopamine, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and nitric oxide.
Furthermore, all of these sunlight photoproducts are known to have healthful effects.
In addition, there are more photoproducts that are produced by sun exposure, but they have not yet been well-studied. Yet, it is likely that all of them will be found to have salubrious effects for the human body. Hence, we need them all. Obviously, a vitamin D pill cannot provide all the health benefits that sunlight provides.
Vitamin D in isolation may not always be healthful. Consider sunlight instead.
So yes, vitamin D is an important photoproduct of sunlight, but it is just one of the photoproducts. Thus, it is along for the ride with its companions. The serum blood tests which measure vitamin D are really surrogate measures for sunlight exposure and its other photoproducts. And, these photoproducts work as a team; one might say a “holistic” team.
Sunlight or vitamin D. What does the vitamin D research tell us?
A surprising piece of recent research assessed the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation on bone strength and density. The researchers worked with 311 healthy volunteers aged 55 to 70 and these volunteers were split into three groups. One group received 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D, and a second group received 4,000 IU per day. Finally, a third group received 10,000 IU per day. Bone strength and density were measured at the beginning of the investigation and at intervals of 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. The researchers had thought there would be an increase in bone mass, yet, the results were opposite of their expectations. Stunningly, all three groups lost bone mass, and the higher the vitamin D dose, the more rapid the bone loss!
How can this happen? Does sunlight exposure play a part?
So, we have an interesting dichotomy here. First of all, we see that isolated vitamin D (the supplements) were counterproductive for bone strength and mass. And yet, we know that low serum levels of vitamin D are associated with low bone density. Maybe we can unravel this mystery by mentioning that almost all serum vitamin D (about 90%) is produced by sun exposure on the skin.
Therefore, low vitamin D levels are really indicative of sunlight deprivation.
And as aforementioned, one isolated chemical (vitamin D), cannot possibly be expected to take the place of the holistic sun. Especially relevant is a study that found Spanish women who sunbathed had 1/11 the fracture risk of indoor women. Is there any doubt that the strong-boned women had higher vitamin D levels than their counterparts? You see, we have gotten it backward, because greater sun exposure associates with higher vitamin D levels and predicts long life and health. Sunlight leads to vitamin D production, but vitamin D does not bring sunlight and all its additional photoproducts.
Does vitamin D supplementation protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD), or is it sunlight?
We know the answer to half of that that question due to a study of more than 83,000 people. And this study was a meta-analysis. This means a compilation and analysis of the best supplementation studies. The study compared vitamin D intake with CVD events (heart attacks, stoke, death from CVD and all-cause death). The authors found, as a result, that vitamin D supplementation was not associated with CVD.
Most noteworthy is that for years, sunlight was shown to associate to a much reduced risk of CVD.
And, that included heart attack and stroke.
Many made the mistake of giving the credit for the reduced risk to vitamin D, because of this research.The answer to health is to embrace the holistic sun and not a single photoproduct.
Sunlight related to the beta carotene study
This reminds me of research on beta-carotene, an antioxidant nutrient found in orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots. Since these vegetables have healthful properties, the researchers decided to experiment with isolated beta-carotene. They wanted determine if beta-carotene also had anti-cancer properties. To their dismay, these experiments associated to an increase in cancer. Does isolated vitamin D lead to the same deleterious outcomes? Sunlight should also be used in its whole form, just like the carrot.
So in the winter, in climes where there is little sunlight, how do we get our share of life-saving light?
The best method is to use a good sunbed (tanning bed), and when the sunlight is available, to be outside enjoying it, summer and winter. Sunbed use has many life-enhancing effects, including longer life, stronger bones and better mood. Read more about sunbeds, sunlight, bone strength and health at http://sunlightinstitute.org/ and read the book by Sorenson and Grant: Embrace the Sun.
Happy sunning! And remember never to burn.
Protect the children with sunshine. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.
Protect the children against illness? That is a great idea, and sunshine is one of the most effective “protectors” we can use.
“Children and arthritis” is not something we hear about because arthritis is thought to be an adult’s disease. Yet tragically, an estimated 294,000 children under age 18 have some form of arthritis or rheumatic condition. And this represents approximately 1 in every 250 children in the US. Thus, we must be concerned and promote actions that protect the children.
Do we need to be even more concerned to protect the children in northern climes?
Also, the numbers of children with arthritis increase dramatically In Canada and the Northern U.S. This could be as a result of either vitamin D deficiency or sunlight deficiency or both. Since 90% of vitamin D blood levels are due to sunlight, it is likely that sun deprivation is the cause. So, if our desire is to protect the children, we must insist that they receive plenty of non-burning sun exposure. And in the winter, a vitamin-D producing sunlamp should be the first choice. When we use lamps to produce vitamin D, we also protect the children with other critically important photoproducts. Some of these photoproducts are endorphins, serotonin, nitric oxide brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), dopamine and endorphin. And all of these photoproducts are necessary for health. So, to help the children, we should be sure that they have ample sunshine or light for the aforementioned sun lamps.
Articles from the UK and scientific journals help us to protect the children.
An article from the Express, a UK online newspaper, describes research published in the scientific journal, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. They state, “Millions of people could protect themselves from crippling arthritis by getting a regular dose of sunshine.” And although the research involved women, we can easily extrapolate to children, since mothers to a great extent, determine their children’s habits.
To learn more about arthritis and the influence of sun exposure, read this article (and others) posted on Sunlight Institute. First of all, go to the news section and search “arthritis.” You will find numerous articles on the subject. Also, read the book, Embrace the Sun.
Remember to obtain regular sun exposure to protect yourself
and to protect the children. Happy sunning!
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: arthritis-related statistics.
Children’s diseases associated with sun deprivation. by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Children’s diseases that are associated with sun deprivation are legion. So, how do I know this? Because my last five blogs discussed this topic, and I’m a long way from finishing the theme.
To subject our children to sun deprivation is child abuse. It results in either lifelong or temporary children’s diseases.
So, the first of the children’s diseases discussed this week will be acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI). In addition, the second will be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ALRI are a leading cause of sickness and mortality both in children and adults worldwide. Furthermore, ALRI are not uniformly defined and this may hamper a true appreciation of their importance. Also, from an epidemiological point of view, the definition of acute lower respiratory infections includes other diseases. The most noteworthy of these diseases are acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis, influenza and pneumonia. The NCBI also states that acute respiratory infections, and particularly lower respiratory tract infections are deadly. Another fact is that these diseases are the leading cause of death among children under five years of age. Especially relevant is that they are estimated to be responsible for between 1.9 million and 2.2 million childhood deaths globally.
Studies regarding children’s diseases indicate that sun exposure has protective effects, whether due to vitamin D production or another factor.
First of all, in one study, children placed outside in sunlight were less than half as likely to suffer ALRI. Another investigation on sunlight compared vitamin D levels and sun exposure habits in children with and without ALRI. And, there was virtually no difference in vitamin D levels between the sick and healthy groups. Yet, those children who had a higher percentage of the body exposed to sunlight were less likely to have ALRI. Therefore, this reinforces the fact that sun exposure has preventive effects beyond vitamin D for children’s diseases.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is another of the disheartening children’s diseases.
ADHD is the most prevalent of mental disorders in children. And, it causes significant problems with executive functions (e.g. attentional control and inhibitory control). In addition, it causes attention deficits, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness not appropriate for a person’s age. Thus, it is certainly another of the important children’s diseases. Also, researchers have found that sun exposure correlates to a decreased risk of ADHD. The investigators assessed the relationship between ADHD prevalence and sun intensity in various nations and in US states. As a result, they found a close association between low sunlight intensity and the prevalence of ADHD. Another finding was that it explained 34%–57% of the variance in ADHD prevalence, with high sunlight intensity having a preventive effect.
It seems like the advice to deprive our children of sun exposure, in order to a prevent melanoma, is disastrous. Do we want to increase the chance of ALRI, ADHD or other children’s diseases we have already discussed? In conclusion, let’s love our children and be sure that they receive plenty of regular, non-burning sun exposure. And for more information, read the book, Embrace the Sun.
Childhood diseases prevented by Sunlight. by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Childhood diseases are directly associated with sun deprivation: Therefore, childhood death and disability can be due to lack of sun exposure!
Childhood diseases and disorders that are prevented by sun exposure have been discussed on many of my recent blogs. Our children are becoming ill due to our neglect. We must insist that they (or in some cases their mothers) play outside each day while eschewing their electronic devices. So, let’s now discuss a few more childhood diseases that are associate with sun deprivation. First of all, there is a 61% increase in death risk among children born to women with low 25(OH) D levels. Since sun exposure on skin is the main source of that photoproduct (vitamin D), the mothers lack sufficient sun exposure. Therefore, they do not furnish the necessary vitamin D to deliver a healthy baby. Furthermore, they are unlikely to bring their babies out in the sun after birth.
It is probably important at this point to mention a vital point. In many cases, vitamin D is exceptionally important. And in other cases, vitamin D may have little to do with the childhood diseases being considered. Since sun exposure leads to vitamin D production, vitamin D levels may simply be a surrogate measurement for sun exposure. Therefore, it may be other photoproducts of sun exposure that are creating some of the health benefits. And what are some of those other photoproducts that may reduce childhood diseases?
- Serotonin, which is one of the body’s natural “uppers”
- Endorphin, another feel-good hormone
- Dopamine, which affects learning and behavior and may help schizophrenia, to attention disorders, and cognitive reasoning
- Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which is essential for nerve growth
- Nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure and may help prevent heart disease.
Whenever vitamin D deficiency is blamed for childhood diseases, sun-exposure deficiency—which causes vitamin D deficiency—is the actual culprit.
Here are three more childhood diseases that are associated with low sunlight exposure:
Eczema: a disease that can be a part of childhood diseases
First of all, a study of children aged 0-17 years showed sun exposure was associated with lessened prevalence of eczema. Hence, children in the highest fourth of exposure were 20% less likely to experience eczema. This is one of the common childhood diseases.
Lack of bone mineralization and size: another of the childhood diseases.
An English investigation, involving 7,000 children, found bone size was positively related to sun exposure of mothers during pregnancies. Researchers conducted another study on children with on poor bone mineral density that predicted fractures. All of them had a significant increase in bone density because of a sun-exposure program that lasted a year. It is also most noteworthy that none of these children had a fracture after the start of the sun-exposure program.
Food allergy emergency: Another of the childhood diseases
Research from Boston states that children younger than 5 years, who were born in fall or winter (times of low sun exposure) had bad outcomes. They had about 50% increase in the risk of emergency room visits for food allergies. That is, compared with children born in spring or summer. Hence, the authors suggested this finding was related to differences in UVB (sun) exposure during their mother’s pregnancies.
In subsequent blogs we will discuss more childhood diseases that are triggered by sun deprivation. In the meantime find more information at sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.
Protect our children with sunlight. By Marc Sorenson, Ed.D
Protect our children and we save the world.
And, we can’t protect our children unless we provide them with sufficient sunlight. This is part three of a series concerned with protecting our children from sun deprivation and the Powers of Darkness. Consequently, we have already covered the dangers of sun deprivation on the childhood diseases of melanoma, myopia, asthma, and AIDS. So, please read the previous two blogs on http://sunlightinstitute.org/ and let’s keep the anti-sun demons at bay!
Protect our children with sunlight and reduce the risk of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI).
First of all, the definition of ALRI usually includes acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis, influenza and pneumonia. ALRI is a leading cause of sickness and mortality both in children and adults worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 20% of all deaths in children 5 years old or younger are due to ALRI, and several studies indicate that sun exposure has a protective effect against the disease.
How well does sunlight protect our children from ALRI?
So, in one piece of research, children who were placed outside in the sun, uncovered, were less than half as likely to suffer ALRI. Also, those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D were ten times more likely to contract this infection than those with the highest levels. Therefore, we can obviously protect our children from ALRI with the sun. So there is no sane reason to deprive our children of sunlight. Also, an investigation compared the vitamin D levels and sun exposure habits in children with and without ALRI. In conclusion, there was virtually no difference in vitamin D levels between the sick and healthy groups. Yet, those children who had a higher percentage of the body exposed to sunlight were less likely to have ALRI. This reinforces the fact that sun exposure has many healing effects beyond its ability to stimulate the production of vitamin D.
Can sunlight help protect our children from dental cavities?
It seems like the answer is yes. One finding showed a direct correlation between hours of available sun per year and the number of dental caries (cavities) in Caucasian boys 12 to 14 years of age: And in geographic areas with less than 2,200 hours of available sunlight, there were, on average, 486 cavities per-year in each group of 100 boys.
In areas where there were 3,000 hours of sunlight, there were only 290 cavities per year per hundred boys. The frequency of cavities was also higher in winter than in summer months. This indicates that sunlight played a big part in reducing cavities.
As a result of this information, we build on the truth that children’s optimal health suffers when they have insufficient sunlight. For more information, read the new book, Embrace the Sun.
 WHO statistics. Accessed 8, 2010. http://www.who.int/fch/depts/cah/resp_infections/en/
 McBeath, E. The role of vitamin D in control of dental caries in children. J Nutr 1938;15:547.
Save the children with sunlight. by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Save the children is a refrain heard throughout the world, and a great refrain it is. It truly is time to save the children. There is so much child abuse and so many childhood health disasters that it is a burden we cannot ignore. It is especially relevant that our children are addicted to noxious foods and sedentary lives. And, the sun robbery they experience is equally harmful. This article is the first of several discussing the necessity for sun exposure if we are to save the children.
Save the children from myopia.
First of all, myopia (nearsightedness) among children is pandemic and increasing at an alarming rate. And, researchers demonstrated as early as 2008 that the lowest myopia risk was among those with highest outdoor activity. Some have surmised that the key ingredient that could save the children from myopia was exercise. But, the researchers refuted that idea because they also demonstrated that indoor exercise did not reduce myopia risk.
Most noteworthy, the same research showed the prevalence of myopia among Chinese children living in Singapore was 29.1%. Furthermore, the prevalence among Chinese children living in Sydney, Australia was only 3.3%. Is this because the Sydney children spent about 13.8 hours per week outdoors compared to 3.1 hours in Singapore? Hence, the children who spent most of their lives indoors had 9.5 times the risk of developing myopia! So adults in Sidney who let their kids play in the sun, certainly knew how to save them from myopia.
How much sunshine does it take?
Children under six should spend three hours daily in sunshine, according to other researchers who want to save them. So what could be a more natural? Just be sure the children do not burn.
Consequently, the next time someone tells you that it is not good for children to play outside, tell them the facts. Outdoor activity in the sunlight is absolutely necessary to save them from myopia. For more information: sunlightinstitute.org, and read my book, Embrace the Sun.
Flesh-eating Bacteria and genitals. The drug companies strike again. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.
What is flesh-eating bacteria of the genitals?
Flesh-eating bacteria of the genitals is a rare, alarming disease associated with a class of type-two diabetes drugs (SGLT2 inhibitors). While many people take these drugs, only a few are unfortunate enough to contract the disease. So the publication, Medical Express, states, “one day you notice pain, redness and a foul odor in your genital area.” As much as I wanted to include an image of this disease, it was too nauseating for me to do it.
Do flesh-eating bacteria really eat flesh?
Of course, bacteria infect, and they don’t eat flesh. The term flesh-eating bacteria is probably used as a description for the rapidity of the infection.
There is a better way to stop diabetes than using a drug that could cause flesh-eating bacteria.
First of all, the real tragedy of this finding is that type-two diabetes is the easiest of all degenerative diseases to reverse. And, I might say, the easiest to prevent. So we don’t need a diabetes drug that could cause flesh-eating bacteria of the genitals. In the health resort that my wife, Vicki and I founded, we had spectacular results. Two-thirds of diabetic clients ceased all medications in about 11.6 days (and no flesh eating bacteria occurred). And if the clients stayed for a month, 85% were off all medication. Furthermore, most of the remaining 15% dramatically reduced their medication. The people became well due to proper nutrition, exercise and plenty of sunshine. So, knowing that, why would the medical community not use that simple method? The answer: there is no money to be made by pharmaceuticals when diabetics heal themselves because of changed lifestyles.
Is flesh-eating bacteria a new phenomenon?
Flesh-eating bacteria have been around for some time, but until the advent of these drugs, diabetes has not been involved. The “old” flesh-eating bacteria disease was called necrotizing fasciitis–another rarity due to strep bacteria. It is most noteworthy that the disease is most common in seasons of low sun exposure, with the highest incidence in winter. Probably, sun-stimulated vitamin D produces the cathelicidins (an antimicrobial peptide) necessary to keep the disease at bay during the summer.
A great new book.
In our book, Embrace the Sun, Dr. William Grant and I make a calculation. For each death caused by diseases associated with sun exposure, there are 328 deaths because of diseases associated with sun deprivation. And two of the diseases associated with sun deprivation are type-two diabetes and necrotizing fasciitis.
The message for preventing diabetes stopping the use of flesh-eating drugs is this: Stop eating junk foods and start getting some regular, non-burning sun exposure (without noxious sunscreens). Happy sunning!For more information on the marvels of sun exposure, visit http://sunlightinstitute.org/ Also read the new book, Embrace the Sun.
Kidney cancer and sunlight. By Marc Sorenson, EdD
Kidney cancer is positively associated with vitamin D supplements—maybe.
There are 62,700 cases of kidney cancer and 14,240 deaths annually. Kidney cancer can be a killer, and maybe sunlight exposure can reduce its risk. And, it is not vitamin D and kidney cancer, but sunlight and kidney cancer, which really piques my interest. I am an advocate of vitamin D and health if vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure to the skin. So today, I was alerted to an article that D supplements—in one subject—was associated with kidney cancer. Consequently, my mind immediately travelled to the book I wrote with William Grant: Embrace the sun.
Kidney cancer studies compiled in Embrace the Sun:
We referenced several studies, which determined that sun exposure reduced many cancers, including kidney cancer, by 35% to 42%. Kidney cancer mortality rates were also found to be strongly inversely correlated with sunshine doses in Dr. Grant’s studies., 
Kidney cancer, sunlight and women
Recent research has also demonstrated that high levels of sun exposure in women significantly reduces kidney cancer. Those women with the highest fourth of sun exposure showed a 33% reduction in risk. Interestingly, the data was adjusted for vitamin D intake, and the results still showed sun exposure to have a stand-alone protective influence on kidney cancer—another indication that sun exposure has protective effects beyond the benefits of vitamin D.
Other studies on kidney cancer, using different designs, have produced comparable effects: A study of Swedish construction workers showed a significant 30% decrease in risk among men with the highest sun exposure.
Why would vitamin D supplementation be a negative for kidney cancer?
So why would vitamin D supplementation have deleterious effects on kidney cancer, when sunlight appears to have such salubrious effects on kidney cancer? First of all, one person does not research make! Secondly, the doses of vitamin D were also quite high, 8,000-12-000 IU per day. Thirdly, the vitamin was not produced by the sun, meaning that the subject’s kidney were not protected by the whole gamut of sun-stimulated photoproducts such as nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and many others that we have yet to discover.
All of the sun’s photoproducts have a place in the choir. Sun exposure should be used holistically. I have been beating that drum for some time. One cannot take a vitamin D pill and hope to achieve all the health benefits of whole-sun exposure.
It is also imperative to understand that toxic levels of
vitamin D are not produced by sun. The body self-regulates vitamin D levels
when they are produced in the skin by sun exposure. Sunlight is vital to human
life. Be sure to get your share of non-burning, safe sunlight and protect
yourself from kidney cancer. And while you are sunning, be sure to read the book,
the Sun. And for more information on Kidney cancer, sunlight and
vitamin D visit Sunlight
 Tuohimaa P, Pukkala E, Scélo G, Olsen JH, Brewster DH, Hemminki K, Tracey E, Weiderpass E, Kliewer EV, Pompe-Kirn V, McBride ML, Martos C, Chia KS, Tonita JM, Jonasson JG, Boffetta P, Brennan P. Does solar exposure, as indicated by the non-melanoma skin cancers, protect from solid cancers: vitamin D as a possible explanation. Eur J Cancer 2007;43(11):1701-12
 Grant WB. An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the US due to inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation. Cancer. 2002 Mar 15;94(6):1867-75.
 Grant WB, Garland CF. The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates. Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4A):2687-99.
 Karami S, Colt JS, Stewart PA, Schwartz K, Davis FG, Ruterbusch JJ, Chow WH, Wacholder S, Graubard BI, Purdue MP, Moore LE. Short Report: A case-control study of occupational sun exposure and renal cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2015 Oct 27.
The great outdoors, sun exposure and health. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.
The great outdoors, because of the sun, is magnificent! The UVB rays have returned to the sunshine in Saint George, Utah, and I have taken full advantage of them, sunbathing daily at midday. But In addition, the great outdoors furnishes so many advantages beyond our life-giving sunlight. Or does it? First of all, sunlight directly effects human health through stimulating the skin to produce photoproducts. Hence, such life-saving products as vitamin D, serotonin, endorphin, nitric oxide, dopamine and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) are increased. Furthermore, none of the other attributes of the great outdoors, such as the greenery and animal life, would be possible without the sun.
Recent research on the great outdoors
A recent study analyzed most of the health research that has been done on the benefits of the great outdoors. The title of the research was: The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. It was an analysis of 143 studies. The researchers showed impressive results from spending time in the great outdoors, especially the green great outdoors, known as greenspace.
Health expectations derived from enjoying the great outdoors:
- A reduction in diastolic blood pressure
- Decreased preterm birth risk
- A reduction in type two diabetes risk
- Decreased all-cause mortality
- A reduced risk of small size for gestational age
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular mortality
- An increased incidence of self-reported health
- Decreased incidence of stroke, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, asthma, and coronary heart disease
- Decreased risk of neurological and cancer-related outcomes and respiratory mortality
- Reduced negative emotions and fatigue
In addition, the authors noted that groups who exercised in the great outdoors had better health results. Indoor exercisers had results that were less than the outdoor exercisers. Thus, the great outdoors groups had significantly improved blood pressure, heart rate, fat percentage, BMI, cholesterol, depression and physical functioning.
While being in the great outdoors is exceptionally important to health, so is sunlight exposure. It is especially relevant that benefits enumerated for outdoor exposure are identical to those for regular, non-burning sun exposure. My new book, Embrace the Sun, delineates those healthful effects. It also cites research that indicates sun deprivation is as dangerous a cigarette smoking.
Summary: Combine sun exposure with the great outdoors.
I opine that both safe sun exposure and exposure to the
great outdoors, are vital to health. So, it is best not to neglect either. Happy sunning!
 Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2016 Oct;280(4):375-87.
 Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, Andy Jones. The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research 166 (2018) 628–637.
 Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2016 Oct;280(4):375-87.
Parkinson’s disease is a common nerve disease, and it is caused by deterioration of brain cells that produce dopamine. It is characterized by tremors, muscle rigidity, shuffling gait, slow speech, and a mask-like facial expression. In addition, even simple movements may become difficult for the person suffering from the disease. And, the disease is a killer that takes the lives of 14,593 per year. So how do we prevent it? In this blog, I will explain the disease, show what the research says about sunlight, and make recommendations for prevention.
Research points out that Sun exposure is the key to prevention of Parkinson’s disease.
Several studies have shown that there is a close association between sunlight exposure, blood vitamin D levels and Parkinson’s. First of all, one paper showed that when vitamin D levels are low, there is a tripling of the risk. Another study from China demonstrated that persons with highest levels of blood vitamin D had a 48% decrease in risk. And, that same research demonstrated that those receiving the greatest sun exposure had about a 47% decrease in risk. So, based on those findings, one might think that vitamin D supplements could prevent the disease. Yet, that thought is erroneous. Sun exposure is the direct key for preventing this debilitating disease.
Vitamin D supplements do not stop Parkinson’s, so how can that be?
Recent research, a systematic review and meta-analysis, is most noteworthy. And it explains this interesting paradox. It showed that sun exposure was significantly associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s. Especially relevant is the fact that those persons with plenty of sun exposure had only 1/50 the risk of Parkinson’s. That is an astounding figure! However, although vitamin D supplements were effective in raising vitamin D levels, they had no significant benefits for Parkinson’s disease.
Vitamin D and sun exposure are not the same.
While sun exposure and supplements both raise vitamin D levels, supplements are no help to Parkinson’s sufferers. Hence, we must look beyond vitamin D for an answer. Sun exposure leads to the production of vitamin D, but it also leads to the production of dopamine. Dopamine, as previously mentioned, is a vital chemical for the brain as regards Parkinson’s. Vitamin D is a marvelous, vital photoproduct and is due to sun exposure. It is vital for human health. However, it appears that vitamin D does nothing for Parkinson’s. Most of all, we must remember that sun exposure produces many essential photoproducts beyond vitamin D.
Vitamin D blood levels, in the case of Parkinson’s and some other diseases, are simply surrogate measurements of sun exposure. We simply cannot substitute a vitamin D pill for sun exposure and expect to reap all the benefits of sunlight. The “holistic” sun will never be supplanted by a capsule. The sun stimulates the production of vitamin D, dopamine, nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphins, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and other photoproducts. And, all of these photoproducts play their roles in human health. For some diseases, vitamin D is vital for prevention. In others such as Parkinson’s, it is just along for the ride.
The takeaway regarding sun exposure and Parkinson’s.
To help prevent this disease, be sure to obtain plenty of non-burning sunlight. And In lieu of that, when there is no sunlight available, use a low-pressure sunbed (tanning bed) in a salon. Always remember not to burn. For more information, read my new book, Embrace the Sun, available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Sun-Marc-B-Sorenson/dp/069207600X
 Knekt P, Kilkkinen A, Rissanen H, Marniemi J, Sääksjärvi K, Heliövaara M. Serum vitamin D and the risk of Parkinson disease. Arch Neurol. 2010 Jul;67(7):808-11.
 Wang J, Yang D, Yu Y, Shao G. Wang Q. Vitamin D and Sunlight Exposure in Newly-Diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease. Nutrients 2016;8:142.
 Zhou Z, Zhou R, Zhang Z, Li K. The Association between Vitamin D Status, Vitamin D Supplementation, Sunlight Exposure, and Parkinson’s disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Med Sci Monit. 2019 Jan 23;25:666-674.