Tag Archives: CVD

Insufficient Sunlight destroys health. Part 1

Insufficient sunlight destroys health. By Marc Sorenson, EdD

Insufficient sunlight a public health problem

Insufficient sunlight is wreaking havoc on health and ruining the enjoyment sunlight provides. Yet, we choose to live in air-conditioned homes, play many of our sports in covered buildings and drive covered cars. In addition, advertisements persuade us that we must wear sunscreen anytime we venture outdoors. Some also suggest that we wear it at night. Thus, they think we can prevent “sun damage” that continues after daytime outdoor sun exposure.  It is obvious that the greater part of our population suffers sunlight deprivation. Or, as a recent scientific review called it, “insufficient sun exposure.”

The paper, Insufficient Sun Exposure Has Become a Real Public Health Problem, exposes the damage done due to sun deprivation.

First of all, the authors begin by stating that deaths due to insufficient sunlight are staggering. They amount to 340,000 yearly deaths in the U.S. and 480,000 in Europe. They then delineate the source of those deaths, first declaring a list of major maladies that spread illness and misery. The list includes breast and colorectal cancer, hypertension, CVD, metabolic syndrome, MS, Alzheimer’s, autism, asthma, type 1 diabetes and myopia. In addition, excessive mortality (death) was also on the list due to of insufficient sunlight. Yet, although the list of these sun-sensitive diseases is impressive, I must say I was disappointed. They did not mention another 15 cancers and other diseases associated closely to insufficient sunlight. For those cancers, and additional diseases, read the book, Embrace the Sun, which I wrote with Dr. William Grant.

For decades, scientists designated vitamin D as the only photoproduct of sunlight that produced benefits.

One of the paper’s salient points regarding insufficient sunlight and is transcendentally important. I have been emphasizing the point for years, yet much of the world ignores it. The point is that vitamin D is a vital and important photoproduct of sun exposure. Yet, other photoproducts of sunlight are equally vital. This statement by the authors tends to clarify the truth about Vitamin D and its place with human health. “Vitamin D has long been considered the principal mediator of beneficial effects of sun exposure. However, oral vitamin D supplementation has not been convincingly shown to prevent the above conditions; thus, serum 25(OH)D as an indicator of vitamin D status may be a proxy for and not a mediator of beneficial effects of sun exposure.”

The authors also mention that nitric oxide, and direct effects of ultraviolet radiation, may work independently of vitamin D. For example, nitric oxide is a colorless gas, formed by sunlight exposure to  endothelial cells in the skin. It acts as a potent vasodilator and lowers blood pressure. In addition, it is also a potent antioxidant. Of course, insufficient sunlight leads to a lack of nitric oxide, vitamin D and other vital photoproducts.

Here are the explanations used in the review regarding different diseases associated with insufficient sun exposure.  Nevertheless, these diseases do not necessarily improve due to vitamin D supplements. Note: the term nmol/L means nanomoles/ per liter, and U.S. measurements are in ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter). To convert nmol/L to ng/ml, multiply by 2.5. 

  1. All-cause mortality (death) Effects of insufficient sunlight

The review also states that insufficient sunlight is a risk factor for death similar to that of smoking. In addition, people with serum vitamin D levels less than 22 nmol/L, have twice the risk of all-cause death. That is, compared to those whose levels were greater than 125 nmol/ (about 50 ng/ml).  Remember, vitamin D levels in these cases are really proxies for sun exposure.

  1. Breast cancer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

  2. The review quotes research showing a 400% increased breast cancer risk is associated with vitamin D levels less than 50 nmol/L when compared to levels greater than 150 nmol/L. Think sunlight. The vitamin D levels are surrogate measurements for sun exposure.

  3. Colorectal cancer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

    The authors quote a meta-analysis showing a 104% higher risk associated with vitamin D levels less than 30 nmol/L compared to those with levels higher than 82 nmol/L. Interestingly, another study, using animals, showed that neither vitamin D nor UVR (sunlight) was associated with the number of cancer tumors. Nevertheless, ultraviolet radiation (UVR), but not vitamin D, appeared to reduce progression to malignancy. Insufficient sun exposure then, could lead to colorectal cancer.

  1. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), our number-one killer. Effects of insufficient sunlight

In their review, the authors note CVD has been the leading cause of death globally for the last three decades. In addition, hypertension, or high blood pressure is the number-one risk factor for (CVD). The review states that a growing body of evidence shows an inverse relationship between sunlight exposure, blood pressure and CVD. The authors indicate that a mediator other than vitamin D probably contributes to CVD mortality. Thus, nitric oxide, a sun-exposure product and potent vasodilator, may be the chemical that lowers blood pressure and reduces CVD. The researchers further state that those with habitual low sun exposure double the risk of cardiovascular death compared with those who receive the greatest sun exposure. Obviously, insufficient sunlight can be a deadly contributor to CVD due to an inability to produce sufficient nitric oxide.

NItric oxide the super molecule

      5. Metabolic syndrome (MetS). Effects of insufficient sunlight

MetS is a cluster of maladies including glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and high fasting insulin levels. MetS also may include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and cholesterol. All of these factors contribute to heart disease and diabetes. The review noted that UVR suppressed obesity and type 2 diabetes, yet, vitamin D supplementation did not produce the same benefits. The review also suggested that sunlight exposure is an effective suppressor of obesity and MetS through vitamin D-independent mechanisms. 

Other diseases, due to insufficient sunlight, to follow later:

Other diseases in the review also indicated an association to insufficient sunlight. I will expatiate on those diseases in a future blog. Until then, be sure to obtain your share of non-burning, regular sun exposure to your skin. In addition, as autumn arrives, you will need a different source of vitamin D production. This is due to the sun’s UVB light being unavailable in autumn and winter in mid to high latitude areas. Therefore, the suggestion is to use a sunbed, which produces vast quantities of vitamin D. Sunbeds also produce vast quantities of UVA light that stimulate nitric oxide in the skin. Therefore, sunbeds are the perfect answer for those times when there is little sunlight availability.

For more information on the healthful effects of sun exposure, visit Sunlight Institute and read my book, Embrace the Sun.Read Embrace the Sun

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Sunshine to stop ED

Sunlight or vitamin D or both? Sunlight is the answer.

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 https://sunlightinstitute.org/ and read the book by Sorenson and Grant: Embrace the Sun.

Happy sunning! And remember never to burn.

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The Latest on Stopping Erectile Dysfunction with Sunlight.

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.

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