By Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute…
The obesity pandemic, brought about by horrendous eating patterns, lack of exercise and lack of sunlight, has spawned millions of nutritionally bizarre diet programs and numerous strange medical procedures. One of the strangest is gastric bypass surgery, a procedure that cuts calorie absorptions by bypassing part of the stomach and intestinal area that absorbs nutrients. It is another case, similar to open-heart bypass, of a surgery that “bypasses” the real problem: preposterous lifestyle habits.
Any thinking person realizes that a surgery that reduces the calorie absorption also reduces the absorption of calcium and dietary vitamin D. It is a recipe for osteoporosis and hip fractures; these nutrients are essential for optimal bone health. Research by Dr. J Fleischer and colleagues showed that one year after gastric bypass, bone loss at the hip was 8%.[i] Just how important is this finding? One assessment showed that the risk of fracture increases two to three times for every 10 percent drop in bone density,[ii] and another showed that for every loss of 0.12g (.043 oz) per square centimeter (.15 square inch) of bone mass, the risk of a fracture increased by 360% in women and 340% in men.[iii]
Remember that this bone loss was reported only one year after the bypass surgery. If this rate of bone loss continued for several years, it would weaken the skeleton to the point that the slightest movement would cause a fracture. The bypass procedure is a horror, and the bone loss brought on by lack of absorption of calcium and vitamin D is even worse.
In the case of decreased absorption of vitamin D, increased dietary intake of vitamin D may not work to improve bone strength; it is likely that only a very small quantity of the increased intake would be absorbed into the system, meaning that the only way to ensure adequate vitamin D levels in the blood is to expose the skin to sunlight around midday in summer or light from sunlamps in winter. Vast quantities of vitamin D are produced in this manner, and the entire quantity is delivered to the blood, where it can work to increase calcium absorption in both the intestine and the bone. Calcium absorption in the intestine, for example, is 65% higher in people whose vitamin D levels are at the high end of “normal” when compared with those who are at the low end of normal.[iv]
Osteoporosis is not inevitable, and it is to a certain extent reversible. It is a problem caused by sunlight deficiency, excessive protein consumption, smoking, and lack of activity. Now we have added another revolting cause: the doctor’s scalpel. I wonder just how many doctors advise their patients about bone loss, sunlight and vitamin D before performing this atrocity. Interestingly, however, sunlight exposure has a positive influence on gastric bypass. Adverse effects of these surgeries are directly associated with the season and latitude in which they occur.[v] Seasons or latitudes of low sunlight availability were inversely correlated to prolonged stays in the hospital (39.4% longer stay), increased dehiscence (bursting open of a surgically closed wound) and wound infection. This surgery is a horror to begin with, but if it must be done, it appears that one should have it done in a sunny season of the year, or at a sunny latitude.
An ounce of prevention is worth tons of cure in the case of obesity. Good nutrition and ample sunlight exposure is essential to optimal human health.
[i] Fleischer J, Stein EM, Bessler M, Della Badia M, Restuccia N, Olivero-Rivera L, McMahon DJ, Silverberg SJ. The decline in hip bone density after gastric bypass surgery is associated with extent of weight loss. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;93(10):3735-40.
[ii] Nguyen T, Sambrook P, Kelly P, Jones G, Lord S, Freund J, Eisman J. Prediction of osteoporotic fractures by postural instability and bone density. BMJ 1993;307:1111-15.
[iii] Nguyen ND, Pongchaiyakul C, Center JR, Eisman JA, Nguyen TV. Identification of high-risk individuals for hip fracture: a 14-year prospective study. J bone Miner Res 2005;20:1921-28.
[iv] Heaney RP, Dowell MS, Hale CA, Bendich A. Calcium Absorption Varies within the Reference Range for Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. J Am Coll Nutr 2003;22:142-46.
[v] Petersen L, Canner J, Cheskin L, Prokopowicz G, Schweitzer M, Magnuson T, Steele, K. Proxy measures of vitamin D status—season and latitude, correlate with adverse outcomes after bariatric surgery in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2001-2010; a retrospective cohort study. 2015;9:88-96.
We have discussed the extraordinary ability of sunlight exposure or other bright-light exposure to profoundly increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that is a potent mood enhancer. The most remarkable research on this subject was by Dr. Gavin Lambert and his colleagues in Australia. They measured serotonin levels in response to varying degrees of bright light. To do this, they actually took blood samples from internal jugular veins of 101 men and compared the serotonin concentration of the blood to weather conditions and seasons. The results were remarkable: MEN WHO WERE MEASURED ON A VERY BRIGHT DAY PRODUCED EIGHT TIMES MORE SEROTONIN THAN THOSE WHO WERE MEASURED ON A CLOUDY, DISMAL DAY. They also observed that the effect of bright light was immediate, and that there was no holdover from day to day. SEROTONIN LEVELS WERE ALSO SEVEN TIMES HIGHER IN SUMMER THAN WINTER. NO WONDER WE FEEL SO GOOD WHEN WE ARE OUTSIDE IN THE SUMMERTIME!
The most popular anti-depressant drugs also work by keeping serotonin levels higher, but there are frightening side-effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), indicates that antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) may increase depression in some cases and lead to suicidal thoughts. Some of the brands involved are Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Celexa and Serzone, although the FDA listed 34 drugs. The entire list is at fda.gov/cder/drug/antidepressants/. They state the following: “The Food and Drug Administration asks manufacturers of all antidepressant drugs to include in their labeling a boxed warning and expanded warning statements that alert health care providers to an increased risk of suicidality in children and adolescents being treated with these agents, and additional information about the results of pediatric studies.”
The FDA lists several additional warnings and instructions about these drugs:
Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children and adolescents with MDD (major depressive disorder) and other psychiatric disorders.
Anyone considering the use of an antidepressant in a child or adolescent for any clinical use must balance the risk of increased suicidality with the clinical need.
Patients who are started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.
Families should be advised to closely observe the patient and to communicate with the prescriber.
Missing are two important facts: (1) SSRI’s increase bone loss. Women who used SSRI’s lose nearly 80% more bone per year than non-users! And as expected, later research shows that SSRI use correlated to a 75% greater likelihood of sustaining a fracture. Secondly, SSRI’s don’t work very well. A meta-analysis of data on SSRI’s submitted to the FDA indicates that placebos (sugar pills) are as effective as SSRI’s in reducing depression;  in other words, only drug companies benefit from SSRI’s—not depression sufferers.
Based on that information, it seems prudent to increase our endorphins (and our happiness) through sunlight exposure. It is what nature intended.
 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.
 Diem SJ, Blackwell TL, Stone KL, Yaffe K, Haney EM, Bliziotes MM, Ensrud KE.. Use of antidepressants and rates of hip bone loss in older women; the study of osteoporotic fractures. Arch Intern Med 2007:167:1231-32.
 Sheu YH, Lanteigne A, Stürmer T, Pate V, Azrael D, Miller M5. SSRI use and risk of fractures among perimenopausal women without mental disorders. Inj Prev. 2015 Jun 25. pii: injuryprev-2014-041483. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2014-041483. [Epub ahead of print]
 Kirsch, I. et al. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Medicine 2008;5:e45. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045