MS is associated closely with lack of sun exposure and low vitamin D levels. So what is new? By Marc Sorenson, EdD
MS is a disabling autoimmune disease.
MS is an autoimmune disease in which T-cells initiate an inflammatory response against myelin. This process, known as demyelination, leaves the nerves bare and susceptible to “short circuiting.” As a result, communications between brain and body suffer damage. Eventually, the disease causes irreparable deterioration of nerves. Some of the effects of MS include numbness and weakness in limbs. In addition, there may be lack of coordination, loss of vision, lack of mobility, slurred speech and numerous other disorders.
What do we know about the connection between sun exposure and MS?
Sunlight is an immunomodulator. In other words, it may affect the functions of the immune system. In the case of an autoimmune disease, it may stop the immune system’s attack on its own tissue. Because sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D in skin, it may suggest that vitamin D is protective. In addition, it also suggests the incidence should diminish in areas of high sun exposure, and increases in areas of low exposure.
Thus, the risk of MS in far northern areas is 100 times greater than in equatorial areas.
In equatorial areas, sunlight is intense, and the risk of the disease approaches zero. Another interesting study of immigrants to the UK (low sunlight), but born in the sunny West Indies is enlightening. Especially relevant is that these immigrants had one-eighth the rate of MS as their own children born in the UK. It therefore appears that childhood sun exposure provides protection against the disease.
Where does vitamin D fit?
While it is tempting to chalk up the association of low MS to high vitamin D (as mentioned above), use caution. As with certain other diseases, sun exposure may have a positive influence on MS, independent of vitamin D. For example, a study on animals assessed the relative affect of sunlight and vitamin D on the diseaase. The researchers concluded, “These results suggest UVR [sun] is likely suppressing disease independent of vitamin D production.” They also stated that vitamin D supplementation alone might not replace the ability of sun (UV) to reduce MS susceptibility.
The investigators used animals that had no vitamin D receptors (VDR), and therefore could not produce vitamin D. Therapy with UV light suppressed the disease. The investigators concluded that UV light suppression of MS occurs in the absence of vitamin D production.
Another recent investigation: High sun exposure and high vitamin D both associate with lessened severity of MS.
This study investigated the severity of the disease among people who already had MS. Thus, it was a unique study, to my knowledge. The investigators used the subjects’ latitude (a marker for sun exposure and vitamin D levels) and compared it to MS severity. Interestingly, high sun exposure and high vitamin D levels associated to a reduction in MS severity. However, the investigators listed only sunlight as a sure factor in reducing MS severity.
Hence, the investigators stated three salient points in their paper.
- “Observational studies suggested vitamin D-dependent effects, but prospective supplementation studies have so far been inconclusive….”
[This is an important, and a wake up call. Those who believe that we need only swallow a handful of pills, as we avoid the sun, are sadly mistaken. There is no way we can determine if high vitamin D blood levels are the reason for a reduction in MS severity. That is, unless we produce those levels in a scientific, controlled study using supplementation.]
- “Although [low] vitamin D cannot be proven as the causal factor, we provide evidence for clinically relevant effects of sunlight exposure.
- ”Furthermore, this study suggests sunlight triggered pathways other than vitamin D could play additional and modulatory roles as well.”
There you have it.
High sunlight exposure decreases the severity of multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D, though it is a miraculous nutrient, probably has little or no effect on the disease.
You can find much more information on sun exposure and MS at sunlightinstitute.org. Also, read the book, Embrace the Sun.
Fishermen receive skin protection through sun exposure and vitamin D, by Marc Sorenson, EdD.
Fishermen in Brazil spend plenty of time on the sea and have healthy skin. Furthermore, they soak up vast quantities of direct sun exposure. Thus, should we expect them to succumb to incredibly high rates of skin cancer? No! Does this seem like a paradox? It should not. It is the perfectly natural outcome of plenty of non-burning sun exposure. This will seem clear to you if you have read my book, Embrace the Sun.
Recent research from Brazil produced some large and fascinating surprises. In addition, it changed a few minds regarding knowledge of sunlight’s healthful qualities. First of all, it illuminated sunlight’s protective effects against skin cancer, particularly in fishermen.
So how much sunlight do fishermen in Brazil soak up daily?
Due to their profession, commercial fishermen chronically expose themselves to sunlight. So, in this research, they had soaked up Brazilian sunlight for more than 15 years. The average exposure time was 21 to 28 hours weekly! Consequently, these fishermen received a sunlight dose 6-8 times higher than indoor workers did. Therefore, you might surmise that they used lots of sunscreen. Yet they did not. It is especially relevant that 62% of this population of fishermen used none. Must we therefore conclude that they suffered exceptionally high skin cancer risk? No. The frequency of skin-cancer diagnoses was 2.7% of the study population of 174 fishermen (and fisher women). The researchers stated, “There was a low prevalence of diagnosed skin cancer among the fishermen when compared to the general population.”
So there you have it. The general population, with comparatively little sun exposure, suffers from a high skin cancer risk.
Yet, fishermen practically bake in the sun every day, and have a minuscule risk of skin cancer. This paradox should be easily understood. Sun exposure is a superb prophylactic against skin cancer and most other cancers if used regularly and safely without burning. Remember that it causes the body to produce vitamin D, which may also provide protection against skin cancer.
More sunlight, less covid 19 by Marc Sorenson, EdD.
More sunlight, I said at the onset of Covid-19 (also known as SARS-Cov-2), would be associated with a reduced incidence disease and death. In addition, I stated the disease would make a remarkable resurgence in fall and winter, as availability of sunlight diminished. For that statement, some praised my perspicacity, and others derided my intelligence. I lost some friends on social media and had to unfriend others.
For our purposes, it is important to understand that there are several coronaviruses, and each causes its particular disease manifestation.
In addition, with the possible exception of Covid-19, these viruses are seasonal. Thus, the incidence rates are higher in winter and lower in summer. Could sunlight exposure be the key to the seasonal relationship? Especially relevant, of course, is that Covid-19 was non-existent at the time the other viruses proved their seasonality. It now appears, however, that Covid-19 is indeed seasonal. Thus, I believe that sunlight drives that seasonality.
So what do we to obtain more sunlight now that winter has arrived?
I suppose it is self-serving to say, “I told you so.” Yet indeed, I did make my prediction, and it was correct. It would have been even more correct if people were encouraged to seek the sun rather than suffer through sunless lockdowns. There is now scientific corroboration that more sunlight associates with less death and disease from Covid-19 and other coronaviruses. Recent research (already dated for 2021), substantiates my ideas on sunlight and Covid-19. In this study, the investigators assessed sunlight available from April 17-July 20, 2020 in various U.S. geographical zones. Then, they compared sunlight availability to the risk of Covid-19 and four other coronaviruses in different areas of the U.S. The graphical abstract they presented is below and makes the same point that I made months ago.
In areas of strong UV radiation (more sunlight), there was much less risk of testing positive for Covid-19 and the other coronaviruses.
Obviously, people need more sunlight to help protect themselves from Covid-19 and other viruses. Obtaining more sunlight works in at least two ways against Covid-19.
1. Research from the CDC shows that sunlight rapidly kills Covid-19 in aerosols.
Aerosols are suspensions of solid particles or liquid droplets in air. They are potential routes for disease transmission. Sunlight is also able to kill Covid-19 on surfaces.
2. More sunlight exposure causes the skin to produce more vitamin D
. Vitamin D inhibits the overproduction of cytokines, specialized protein molecules that attack and destroy infections. Usually, the cytokine needed to fight the infected tissue stops its attack after it has won the battle. However, in the case of a disease like influenza (or Covid-19), “friendly fire” occurs. The body’s immune system recruits innumerable “extra” or reinforcing cytokines, and those cytokines mount an overwhelming attack against the tissue they initially protected; in other words, they cause a cytokine storm.
Cytokine storms lead to severe inflammation that weakens or destroys blood vessel membranes in the lungs.
This causes fluid to seep through to the air sacs, which leads to pneumonia. A person then ends up drowning in his/her own body fluids. Dr. Angela Rasmussen describes it thus: “Basically you’re bleeding out of your blood vessels.” She goes on to say that the problem may not end there. The storm spills into the circulatory system and can create systemic issues across multiple organs.
Vitamin D, through various mechanisms, retards and stops cytokine storms.
Thus, sun exposure is a two-edged sword: (1) it kills Covid-19 outside the body. (2) It causes the production of vitamin D and can stop the cytokine storm.
So in winter, when there is little sunlight available, and virtually no production of vitamin D, what shall we do?
When there is insufficient sunlight, it is essential to find another source of light that will also produce vitamin D. Sunbeds are the ideal source of the light we seek. Research shows that sunbed users (tanning bed users) in Canada and the U.S. have higher vitamin D levels than any other demographic.
I own a sunbed and go to salons when traveling. This winter, I plan to use my sunbed regularly. In my opinion, it is the best protection against the sunlight deficiency experienced in winter.
Memory, learning and sunlight by Marc Sorenson, Ed.D
Memory becomes a worry as humans age, and that worry has spawned a plethora of new anti-forgetfulness products. Based on recent research, we elucidate the manner in which sunlight stimulation of skin may influence important chemical reactions. These reactions improve memory and cognition.
For the purpose of this article, it is necessary to understand the meaning of three terms:
- Urocanic acid (UCA): a crystalline acid normally present in human skin, it may play a part in skin protection.
- Histidine: a basic amino acid that acts as an intermediary between UCA and glutamate
- Glutamate: a chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter and excites cells of the central nervous system
You are probably already forming your own opinion regarding the interaction of sunlight and memory. Let us expatiate on that interaction and unravel a hitherto unknown mystery.
The authors of the aforementioned research noted that seasons of sunlight associated with moderate improvement to physical and mental states. Some conditions you may be familiar with, because we have discussed them at length in these blogs. A few of them are seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder, and depression. Nevertheless, what makes the research so interesting is that it sought answers regarding why sunlight seemed to enhance learning and memory. Moreover, it found a brand new answer.
Because the researchers explored brain neurons to unlock the mystery, they found that UCA existed in many brain regions. This was not something that they had encountered previously, and thus it piqued their curiosity. No other investigators had reported finding UCA in the central nervous system. Yet, they knew UCA was prevalent in skin. Therefore, knowing that sun exposure to the skin produced many photoproducts, they tested a new hypothesis. That hypothesis was that UCA produced by sunlight could be the link that ties sunlight to memory.
How the researchers conducted the experiment
After exposing rats to low-dose UVB exposure (similar to sunlight or sunbed exposure), they observed increased UCA levels in the serum. Moreover, they observed the same increase in UCA levels within the neurons (nerve cells) of the cerebrospinal fluid. Furthermore, they were able to produce the same increases in UCA brain levels by intravenous injection of UCA. This suggests that UCA may cross the blood/brain barrier and enter brain neurons. The authors of the above-cited research stated that UCA is an intermediate part of a conversion of histidine to glutamate. The following graph describes the sunlight>UCA>glutamine>memory connection. (from the authors)
Glutamate, as mentioned, excites neurons in the brain. What better way to improve memory?
To test their hypothesis with “mouse memory,” the investigators assessed the ability of the animals to stay on a moving device called a rotarod. In addition, they observed that administration of both UCA and UV exposure enhanced the performance of the animals.
The bottom line regarding sunlight and brain function
Sun exposure improves memory, and UCA (with glutamate) appears to be one of the mechanisms responsible for that improvement.
Latitude, sunlight, and covid-19 by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Latitude, when compared to disease and disability, is an attention catcher. First of all, why would latitude be important? Is it because latitude itself creates disease? Is it because different latitudes lead to different temperatures? Could it be different distances from the magnetic poles are involved in human physiology? No, none of those answers is correct, yet, there is a simple answer to the link between latitude and disease. That answer is sunlight and vitamin D. Low latitudes (closer to the equator) receive much more sunlight, and sunlight is more direct much of the year.
A study of latitude backs the efficacy of sunlight, and possibly vitamin D, on reducing the risk of Covid-19. This was a large, study, drawing reliable data from 88 countries. The researchers compared the countries for Covid-19 death rates and then compared them for the latitude.
The results of Covid-19 death rates compared to latitude.
Highly significant, positive correlations were found between lower mortality rates from Covid-19 and a country’s proximity to the equator. The researchers stated that their evidence suggested a direct correlation between sun exposure and reduced mortality. They also assumed that vitamin D was the photoproduct of sunlight that lowered the risk of Covid-19.
This was a good, timely study in that it established sunlight as a prophylactic for covid-19. Many studies had previously mentioned vitamin D as the primary blood measure to reduce risk of the Covid-19, but none has mentioned latitude as a factor to furnish proof. In addition, neither does this study really furnish proof. That is because the only study that will prove the relationship would be a vitamin D-supplement study.
Other research,which links vitamin D levels to reduced Covid-19 mortality, but does not mention latitude as a factor.
Another recent study on the association of vitamin D levels to covid-19 survival shows promise for vitamin D. It states that fourteen observational studies show that high D levels inversely correlate with the incidence or severity of Covid-19. Yet, we should always remember that sun exposure on skin produces 90% of the vitamin D levels in most populations. Furthermore, 20 minutes of full-body summer sun exposure at midday produces up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D.
Finally, a word about sunbeds (tanning beds)
Finally, realize that sunbeds (tanning beds) produce vitamin D and enhance health. In addition, it is likely they would also reduce Covid-19. Sunbeds produce vast quantities of vitamin D. People in Canada who use sunbeds have the highest levels of vitamin D in the country, especially in winter. Moreover, a 20-year study demonstrated that both sun exposure and sunbed exposure reduced the risk of death. Women who used sunbeds were 23% less likely to die from any cause than women who did not use them. Another advantage is that latitude does not matter with sunbed use.
From the available research, it is evident that sunlight and vitamin D are protective against Covid-19. Sunlight exposure at midday, or sunbed use, are always the best sources, since sunlight exposure produces many health benefits beyond vitamin D.
Vitamin B3, other lifestyle factors and skin cancer, by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Vitamin B3 is not a topic I expected to find while checking out the latest on nutrition and skin cancer. Consequently, it surprised me that research showed an impressive effect of vitamin B3 on protection against non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). NMSC are also known as squamous and basal cell carcinomas (SCC and BCC). The protection occurs against UV (ultraviolet) light, which researchers claim is the prime factor causing squamous and basal cell cancers. In the aforementioned study, treatment with vitamin B3, 24 hours before exposure of skin to UV, reduced oxidative stress significantly. It also had the ability to repair DNA damage. This is another study demonstrating that sunlight is not the enemy. Rather, NMSC is due to a combination of factors, including environmental toxins, poor habits of hygiene, smoking, and poor nutrition.
When the skin lacks protection, which is too often the case, then excessive sun exposure can cause damage and pain.
However, that is not what happens in a well-adjusted and well-cared-for life. Protection, whether by vitamin B3 or other additional healthful factors, can stop the damage. This may render sun exposure one of God’s greatest gifts to human health and wellbeing. Sun exposure is really only a minor factor in NMSC.
Here are factors beyond sunlight (and vitamin B3) that make a difference in this skin cancer:
Smoking predicts a higher risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). After adjustment for sun exposure, age and sex, smoking predicts a doubling of the risk for SCC. In addition, there is a dose/response relationship between the number of cigarettes smoked and the risk of SCC. Such a relationship also exists among those whose diets lack green, leafy vegetables and whose consumption of meat and fat are very high. Vitamin B3 could be a nutritional factor related to low vegetable consumption and high meat and fat consumption.
Obesity is also an important risk factor for NMSC.
One study suggests that being obese changes the tumor microenvironment, due to the chronic inflammatory state that generally accompanies obesity. Furthermore, Cancer mortality maps also indicate that NMSC mortality is highest in regions with the highest obesity (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html). However, this is not true of regions with the highest sunlight exposure.
Lack of Vitamin B3 is a factor for an increased number of NMSC and probably for other cancers. Yet, it is only one of many factors that protect the skin. When poor nutrition and other deleterious lifestyle habits disappear, the risk of NMSC decreases. Let us not blame the sun!
IQ, vitamin D and sunlight by Marc Sorenson, Ed.D
IQ and vitamin D levels piqued my interest many years ago. This was because research had demonstrated that animals with low vitamin D levels had poorer neurocognitive function. For example, rats born to vitamin D-deficient mothers have profoundly altered brains at birth. The cortex is longer, the lateral ventricles enlarged the cortex thinner, and there is more cell proliferation. Furthermore, there are also reductions in brain content of nerve growth factor. In addition, similar results manifested themselves with older rats born to vitamin D-deficient mothers.
Other research indicates IQ, vitamin D and sunlight have a connection to cognitive function:
Here are more reasons to believe brain and cognitive function associate closely with IQ, as well as vitamin D and sunlight. The book Embrace the Sun. covers the following facts thoroughly:
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and non-Alzheimer’s dementia associate with low vitamin D levels and insufficient sun exposure.
- Autism associates with low vitamin D levels. Bipolar disorder associates with both sun exposure and low vitamin D levels.
- In addition, a study of cognitive abilities as they relate to vitamin D levels shows a considerable difference in vitamin D deficient people. Thus, persons with lowest levels are twice as likely cognitively impaired compared to those with highest levels. Remember that sun exposure raises and optimizes vitamin D levels.
- Another study showed twice as many patients with intellectual disabilities showed D deficiency when compared to normal controls.
Back to IQ
Despite the aforementioned facts and research, I had never seen research that associated IQ in humans to sunlight. Consequently, I searched the literature for years, and have now found my research. A most interesting article on IQ, vitamin D and sunlight recently appeared in the Journal of Nutrition. In this study, the researchers assessed pregnant women for vitamin D levels and then assessed their subsequent offspring for IQ.
The researchers assessed these women’s vitamin D levels in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Offspring of women with low vitamin D levels had lower IQs at the age of 4-6 years. The researchers concluded thusly: “Second-trimester maternal vitamin D positively associated with IQ at 4–6 y, suggesting that gestational vitamin D status may be an important predictor of neurocognitive development. These findings may help inform prenatal nutrition recommendations and may be especially relevant for Black and other dark-skinned women at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
The bottom line regarding IQ.
Pregnant mothers need to optimize their vitamin D levels, preferably by sun exposure to the skin. It will ensure that both they and their offspring will be healthier and smarter. This is vitally important to black women and other women of color, who have large quantities of skin melanin. This inhibits vitamin D production and may be dangerous for their offspring. IQ, vitamin D and sunlight are important to well-being and happiness. Nevertheless, the researchers observed no IQ differences based on race, but only on vitamin D Levels.
Vitamin D power for immunity and Covid-19 by Marc Sorenson EdD
Vitamin D power may be exactly what we need to defeat covid-19 and other maladies. This is a according to a press release and new research from the Vitamin D Society of Canada (VDSC). The release is entitled Strengthen Your Immune System to fight COVID-19 – World Vitamin D Day. It indicates optimal vitamin D levels may equal social distancing and masks for reducing covid-19 this winter. VDSC Executive Director Perry Holman states, “Increasing your daily intake of vitamin D is an action you can take immediately to safeguard your health until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. Many people have deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels. As we celebrate the 11th anniversary of World Vitamin D Day on Nov. 2, please evaluate your vitamin D intake and increase it to COVID-19 fighting levels.”
The press release then discusses how to increase vitamin D.
Adults should take 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D. Thus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert, takes 6,000 IU per day.
Enjoy natural sunlight when the UV index reaches three and your shadow is shorter than you are. Never sunburn. (This, in my opinion, is the most important and natural way to produce vitamin D power.)
Consider artificial UVB exposure when natural sunlight is weak or not available and your skin type can receive UV exposure without burning.
Increase your food intake of fatty fish such as salmon.
Take a vitamin D3 supplement to make up the balance when sun exposure is not available. UVB from sunlight or a sunlamp is what makes vitamin D naturally in your skin.
New research backs up the press release and lends credence to the focus of the article. The research below is verbatim from the press release and shows the efficacy of vitamin D .
In a US based study of over 190,000 people, researchers found that those people with a deficient vitamin D blood level (below 50 nmol/L or 20 mg/ml) had a 54% higher COVID-19 positivity rate compared with people who had adequate vitamin D levels (75 nmol/L or 30 ng/ml). (Kaufman 2020)
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at the University of Chicago found that patients who had deficient vitamin D blood level (less than 50 nmol/L or 20 ng/ml) had a 77% greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 vs patients who had a sufficient vitamin D status. (Meltzer 2020)
A small, randomized controlled trial (RCT) study in Spain found that COVID-19 patients treated with vitamin D were less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and less likely to die from COVID-19. The study found that 50% of the patients not receiving vitamin D were admitted to the ICU compared to 2% of the patients receiving vitamin D. Two out of 26 patients who did not receive vitamin D died while none of the 50 vitamin D treated patients died. Some hospitals in Spain are now moving their COVID-19 patients out in the sun to increase their vitamin D. (Castillo 2020)
An Israeli population-based study of 7,807 individuals found that people with vitamin D levels greater than 75 nmol/L or 30 ng/ml were 50% less likely to contract COVID-19 and 95% less likely to suffer hospital stays. (Merzon 2020).
In conclusion, the press release from the vitamin D Society holds the key to preventing Covid-19.
Keep sunning and optimize your vitamin D power!
Sleeping soundly through sun exposure by Marc Sorenson, EdD.
Sleeping in vital to human function and insomnia (inability to sleep) is a major detriment to health. Consider the following facts: Most noteworthy, persons taking 18 sleeping pills yearly triple the risk of death, compared to those taking fewer than 18. Furthermore, an article from Forbes stated, “In 2012, 60 million Americans filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, up from 46 million in 2006.”
More information from Forbes regarding the need for sleep.
The Forbes article then described the results of recent research on sunlight and sleeping. It showed workers, whose workplaces have windows and other natural light sources, could sleep about 46 minutes per night more, compared to those who had no natural light access. In addition, those who had more sun showed greater happiness, had fewer ailments, and experienced better vitality. Thus, it follows that whatever the disorder causing insomnia, there is a better way of dealing with it. Therefore, frying the brain with pills should not be the method of choice to increase sleeping ability.
Vitamin D did not not associate with the aforementioned increased sleep.
This research is particularly interesting because the effects of sun exposure in this case probably had nothing to do with vitamin D, since the solar rays came through windows, which block the vitamin D-producing UVB light. It is likely that the positive effects of the sun occurred due to increasing serotonin levels (a natural mood enhancer) in the brain during sun exposure, and then by allowing melatonin (a natural relaxer) to take over during the night.
Sleeping, and the lack thereof, closely associate with several illnesses.
A study from Egypt reveals several factors associated with insomnia (inability to sleep) among elderly people: Having five or more chronic diseases associated to a 7.5 tmes increased insomnia risk; anxiety associated with a 1.9 times increased risk; and depression with a 1.7 times increased risk. Only one factor, sun exposure, associated with reduced insomnia risk—a 43% reduction! Likely, this was due to the sun-related production of serotonin and melatonin
It is becoming increasingly obvious that lack of sleep is a major risk factor for human health, as reported in the journal Sleep Medicine, regarding metabolic syndrome (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). In addition, it associates to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The study assessed 2579 adults without Met S for sleep habits during a 2.6-year period. This determined their risk of developing the Met S. The participants’ age ranged between 40 and 70 years.
Those who slept 6 hours or less were 41% more likely to develop Met S, compared to those who slept 6-8 hours. High blood glucose and excess belly fat increased by 30%. Both of these predict future diabetes. In addition a 56% increase in high blood pressure risk occurred. The researchers concluded: “Short sleep duration is an independent risk factor for incident metabolic syndrome in a population-based longitudinal study.”
Sleep deprivation is a common and perhaps deadly malady. If one wants to sleep well, sun exposure during the day is imperative. The sun may be our best hope for reversing this pandemic.
Be sure to obtain your share of non-burning, regular sun exposure whenever the sun is shining. It may save your life and health.
Schizophrenia and sunlight by Marc Sorenson, EdD
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, acts, emotes, perceives reality, and relates to others. It is not as common as other major mental illnesses, yet it can be the most long lasting and incapacitating.
People with schizophrenia often have problems performing well in society, at work, at school, and in relationships. They might feel frightened and withdrawn, and may appear to lose touch with reality.
What are the indications that sun exposure may have an influence and perhaps a preventive effect on this disease?
First, there is a significant association between the month of birth and schizophrenia in men. In men born during seasons of little sun, the rate of schizophrenia and its problems is higher. This relationship exists in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Schizophrenia is also more common in dark-skinned migrants to cold climates. In addition, increased rates of schizophrenia exist in those born in urban (less sun) compared to rural settings (more sun). These facts all point to an influence of sun exposure against this disease, and especially in pregnant mothers. Increased vitamin D blood levels of both mother and child result from greater sun exposure. Furthermore, all of the direct and impressive effects of sun exposure would also enhance the health of both.
Using light to combat the disease.
The use of bright light therapy for pregnant mothers might be effective during the second trimester of pregnancy, if it occurs around the winter solstice. The bright light might partially compensate for the lack of some sun exposure at that time of year. The hypothesis is that bright light protects against circadian pacemaker problems in the child. Several mechanisms, including the control of melatonin secretions in the mother might come into play. Other potential preventive mechanisms of sun exposure are brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. These all stimulated by sun exposure, and all have salubrious effects on the brain and nervous system.
An interesting study from China regarding sunshine and schizophrenia.
A recent research paper from China showed that low levels of sun exposure could predict increased risk of hospital admissions for schizophrenia. The researchers concluded the following: “Policymakers and doctors should promote further understanding of the health benefits of sunlight and take effective measures to prevent schizophrenia.”
From the information provided here, it seems reasonable to suggest regular, non-burning sun exposure as a possible prophylactic measure against schizophrenia.