Tag Archives: vitamin d

Want to get Pregnant? Look to the Sun. Sunlight Exposure Increases Success Rate with IVF and may help with Problems of ED.

Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

The Daily Mail, from the UK, recently posted an article regarding sunlight and fertility that should catch some interest.[1]

Infertility is a problem that causes some couples to seek help from in vitro fertilization (IVF). New research shows that sunlight exposure for a month prior to the procedure increase the odds of success by 35%.[2] Dr. Frank Vandekerckhove, who reported the research, looked at the IVF results of about 6,000 women and compared the dates of their treatment with weather conditions. The more sunshine, the greater likelihood of becoming pregnant. Dr. Vandekerckhove said that sunshine a month before conception probably helped a woman’s eggs to mature. He also mentioned that there is no reason to think that a burst of sunshine won’t also help women trying to get pregnant naturally.

There is nothing really new about the effects of sunlight on fertility, and this work by Vandekerckhove is not the first to establish the link of sunlight to IVF. Much has also been studied regarding natural, non- laboratory fertility. Low vitamin D, which is primarily a result of low sunlight exposure, is closely related to the ability to conceive in both women and men.  Couples spend thousands of dollars on fertility clinics and IVF when perhaps all they need is some time in the sun.

In an article posted on Emax health, entitled Sex in the Sun May Increase Your Fertility it is pointed out that approximately 15% of couples who want to conceive are plagued by problems of fertility.[3] Drs. Elisabeth Lerchbaum and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, in 2012, conducted a review of articles on vitamin D and fertility and came to these conclusions:[4] “VDR knockout mice [mice whose vitamin D doesn’t work due to inability to link to receptors at the cellular level] have significant gonadal insufficiency, decreased sperm count and motility, and histological abnormalities of testis, ovary and uterus.” They also point out that vitamin D is involved in female reproduction—including IVF outcome, so it is a bit surprising that the article in the Daily Mail gave the impression that the research by Vandekerckhove was a totally new concept.

The review also stated that in men, higher vitamin D levels are positively associated with semen quality and androgen (male hormone) status, and that vitamin D treatment might increase testosterone levels.

One thing that is missing in these excellent studies is any discussion of the production of nitric oxide (NO) by sunlight exposure. NO is a potent vasodilator that is essential for proper erection in men, meaning it relaxes the blood vessels, allowing the blood to pass more easily through the vessels. Without it erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs.[5] Viagra, Cialis and other such ED drugs work through a Nitric Oxide pathway[6] and act by keeping NO in circulation for a longer period. But they don’t work in about one-third of the cases, and the effect diminishes over time, not to mention the side effects such as headaches, body aches and pains, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, vision changes, flushing, congestion and runny nose.[7] Since sunlight exposure increases NO, it is probably a better choice. For those who wish to produce a pregnancy, ED could be a devastating problem, and sunlight may be the answer.

Sunlight exposure has so many positive properties that we may never know them all. Use non-burning sunlight safely. Here’s to a successful pregnancy and a sunny family life!

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3130616/Sunbathing-help-pregnant-Increased-exposure-raise-odds-mother-third.html

[2]Vandekerckhove, F. Presentation at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 14 to 17.

[3] http://www.emaxhealth.com/8782/sex-sun-may-increase-your-fertility

[4] Lerchbaum E1, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Vitamin D and fertility: a systematic review. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 May;166(5):765-7.

[5] Burnett AL. The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2006 Dec;8(12 Suppl 4):53-62.

[6] http://drliesa.com/neo-40-lozenges/

[7] http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/erectile-dysfunction-medications-common-side-effects?stickyLb=true

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Sunlight is better than Vitamin D in Preventing Weight Gain.

Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

Those of you who follow this blog remember that one of my posts regarding weight control showed that early-morning sunlight was inversely correlated to body weight and Body Mass Index (BMI).[1] The earlier in the day the sunlight exposure occurred, the slimmer was the figure or physique.[2]

Another scientific paper was recently published that “sheds more light” on the subject of obesity. This research was conducted on mice that were placed on a high-fat diet and then exposed to non-burning ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during a three-month experiment.[3] The mice, without the benefit of UVR, would have been expected to gain weight rapidly, but when they were exposed to UVR, the weight gain was impressively reduced; the UVR treatment achieved 30-40% less weight gain, compared to the expected weight gain with the high-fat diet. The amount of UVR exposure to the mice was proportionally equal to the amount of UVR that a human would be exposed to by standing for ten minutes at noon.

Other benefits included significant reductions in glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels (all markers and predictors of diabetes), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease measures and cholesterol. All of these factors, including obesity, are part of a cluster of maladies known as the metabolic syndrome, or MetS, which is indicative of deteriorating health and susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes and death. 

Other interesting findings:

Supplementation with vitamin D actually reduced the aforementioned beneficial effects. Dr. Shelley Gorman, one of the authors, made two interesting observations regarding the research:

  1. “These findings were independent of circulating vitamin D and could not be mimicked by vitamin D supplementation.”[4]
  2. “It looked like the presence of vitamin D in mice on the high fat diet prevented the [beneficial] effect of UV radiation on weight gain.”
  3. She also mentioned that the mechanism or weight loss may be dependent on nitric oxide (NO), which originates from diet and can be mobilized by UV radiation to become bioactive.[5]

In another part of the experiment, skin induction of nitric oxide (NO)—also a product of skin exposure to sunlight—reproduced many of the positive effects of UVR, something that vitamin D could not do.

The authors concluded their research thusly: “These studies suggest that UVR (sunlight exposure) may be an effective means of suppressing the development of obesity and MetS, through mechanisms that are independent of vitamin D but dependent on other UVR-induced mediators such as NO.

Research continues to mount about the positive effects of sunlight that are independent of vitamin D. This should in no way be construed to diminish the vital importance of vitamin D; rather, it is to make a point that sunlight works in many ways, among which are stimulating the production vitamin D, stimulating the production of NO, stimulating the production of serotonin and stimulating the production of endorphins. Why should we be satisfied with any one of these marvelous health aids when sunlight is available? With sunlight exposure, we can have them all.


[1] http://sunlightinstitute.org/675/

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 2;9(4).

[3] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69

[4] http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/health-a-medicine/item/3618-sun-shines-light-on-obesity-challenge

[5] See footnote 4.

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The Latest on Sunlight and Bone Strength. Kick up your heels!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD,  Sunlight Institute

Nearly all research shows a positive association between sunlight and bone strength. One of the most interesting of these studies measured heel-bone stiffness (a measurement of bone strength) and various lifestyle factors among Okinawan men with and without type-two diabetes.[i]

The research demonstrated that among the group with type-two diabetes, there were a significant negative correlation between cigarette smoking heel bone stiffness. That negative correlation also was evident with age. Other factors did not produce a significant correlation in the diabetic group; however, in the non-diabetic (control) group, a significant positive correlation was shown between heel-bone stiffness and two other factors: (1) sunlight exposure and (2) consumption of small fish. Of the two, sunlight exposure predicted greater bone strength.

It is probable that the vitamin D produced by sunlight exposure led to increased heel bone strength in the control group. It is also possible that lack of sunlight in the diabetic group may have been one of the predisposing factors that initially led to diabetes in the diabetic group, as it has been shown that vitamin D supplementation in pre-diabetic subjects predict a dramatically reduced risk of developing the full-blown disease.[ii] Sunlight exposure, of course, is the most natural way to produce vitamin D.

Keep your heels—and the rest or your bones—strong by obtaining plenty of non-burning sunlight!

[i] Michiko Gushiken, Ichiro Komiya, Shinichiro Ueda, Jun Kobayashi. Heel bone strength is related to lifestyle factors in Okinawan men with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Diabetes Invest 2015; 6: 150–157

[ii] Pittas, A. et al. The effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on blood glucose and markers of inflammation in nondiabetic adults. Diabetes Care 2007;30:980-86.

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Working in Natural Light Improves Mood, Performance, Behavior and Psychological Health.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight Institute

There are few things that improve our wellbeing like arising early in the morning and walking outside on a bright, sunny day. Our attitude improves, our serotonin and endorphin levels increase and there is an almost immediate feeling of exhilaration. We also become less confrontational, and our minds seem to click on all cylinders. Later on, around midday, if we are fortunate enough to have time to safely sunbathe (with lots of skin exposed), we produce large quantities of vitamin D, and our nitric oxide levels increase. This gives us a delicious feeling of relaxation and an almost instantaneous lowering of blood pressure as the cares of the day melt away.

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Two Recent Research Studies Demonstrate: (1) Sunlight PROTECTS against Pancreatic Cancer; (2) Vitamin D DOES NOT Protect against Pancreatic Cancer.

Research published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology demonstrates that there is a strong inverse relationship between exposure to sunlight and the risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the very deadliest cancers.[1] The researchers assessed the association between sun exposure and the incidence of pancreatic cancer worldwide. Those living in countries closer to the equator would be expected to have greater sunlight exposure that those who lived in darker northern or southern countries. The investigators, however, took it one step further; they adjusted the data for cloudiness, which allowed them to determine if the sunnier countries with greater cloudiness had populations with greater pancreatic cancer risk than those sunnier countries with few clouds, and also the influence of clouds in countries farther from the equator.  

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Important for women! Completely Avoiding Sunlight is Associated with a 1000% Increase in Breast Cancer.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

As I was searching the National Library of Medicine (PubMed) for information on sunlight and its relationship to breast cancer, a profoundly important piece of research emerged. An investigation from Iran on the association between cancer risk and vitamin D showed that low vitamin D predicted only a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. However, among women who totally covered themselves and thereby had no sunlight exposure, there was a more than a 10-times increase in the risk of the disease.[1]

The message of the study is that sunlight avoidance, as promulgated by the sunscreen industry and dermatological societies, is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated. Coupled with our pitiful nutritional habits, it guarantees that breast cancer will remain rampant. Women (and men), please take care of yourselves by getting regular, non-burning sunlight exposure. That habit correlates to a reduction not only in breast cancer, but also prostate cancer and about 20 other major cancers. The sun is not your enemy. Just use it wisely and don’t burn. And while you do that, please eat lots of berries, dark fruits and green vegetables.

I have written many articles on this site regarding sunlight and cancer. Use the search bar to look up and read them. I will shortly post another blog on prostate cancer and sunlight. Until then, happy and safe sunbathing!

[1] Bidgoli SA, Azarshab H. Role of vitamin D deficiency and lack of sun exposure in the incidence of premenopausal breast cancer: a case control study in Sabzevar, Iran. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(8):3391-6.

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Sunlight Controls weight and improves health, independently of vitamin D

By: Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute–

In a previous post, I mentioned that morning sunlight exposure correlated to a lower body-mass index (BMI), a measurement which is used to assess whether a person is obese, normal weight, overweight, etc.[1] It was obvious that production of vitamin D was not the mechanism that led to the slimmer bodies, because D production is greatest at midday.

The relationship of weight to sunlight has again been assessed in an impressive animal study. The researchers fed mice a high-fat diet to investigate the effects of vitamin D and/or ultraviolet radiation (UVR) (such as that in sunlight) on the potential to develop obesity, diabetes and other measures—a cluster of maladies known as the metabolic syndrome (MetS). Long-term UVR exposure significantly suppressed weight gain, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease. It also suppressed blood levels of fasting insulin, glucose and cholesterol.[2] Interestingly, those benefits were not reproducible by vitamin D supplementation. However, when nitric oxide (NO) was increased by UVR exposure, many of the positive benefits were indeed duplicated.

The authors make a profound statement to conclude their research: “These studies suggest that UVR (sunlight exposure) may be an effective means of suppressing the development of obesity and MetS, through mechanisms that are independent of vitamin D but dependent on other UVR-induced mediators such as NO.”

The takeaway from this research is that we cannot simply throw a vitamin D capsule at a problem and expect it to take the place of the sun. That marvelous hormone, vitamin D, is critically important to human health, and the information here does not denigrate its importance; nevertheless, there are many other important sunlight products such as NO, serotonin, and endorphins that are essential to wellbeing. We need them all, and sunlight is the best source.

Stay slim and stay healthy by enjoying safe, non-burning sunlight.

[1] S.p://sunlightinstitute.org/morning-sunlight-may-lead-slimmer-figure

[2] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69.

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Sunlight inhibits vitamin D deficiency

Morning Sunlight May Lead to a Slimmer Figure.

By: Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute —

 Chalk up one more benefit of sunlight—morning sunlight that is. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine demonstrates that timing and intensity of light correlate with body mass index (BMI).[1] BMI is a numerical computation that compares height and weight, and it is considered a good measurement to assess obesity or the lack thereof. A high BMI usually means that a person is obese or at least approaching obesity. Optimal BMI is 18-25. Below 18 is underweight, above 25 is overweight, 30 is obese and 40 and above is morbidly obese.This research showed that exposure to bright morning light was directly related to BMI. After adjusting for confounders such as diet, exercise and sleep timing, it was determined that very early exposure to morning light correlated remarkably to lower BMI; even when light intensity was equal at different times of the day, those who received earliest bright light had lower BMI. In fact, for each hour later in the day that the light exposure occurred, BMI increased by 1.28 units. This fact is exceptionally important, since a person who has a BMI of 25 (upper ideal range) could approach 30, or obesity, simply by the habit of sunlight exposure later in the day, i.e. 10:00 AM rather than 6:00 AM.The authors of this research suggested that the mechanisms involved in weight control by early light exposure could be the following: (1) resetting the circadian rhythm (internal clock), (2) the greater amount of blue light in morning sunlight and (3) effects on melatonin production. Whatever the reasons, we now know that early-morning sunlight is important to weight control. It may also be important to other health issues.Since we know that the greatest vitamin D production, as a result of sunlight exposure, occurs around noon, I would suggest enjoying some early sunlight to begin the day, and then to engage in moderate, non-burning sunbathing around midday to optimize vitamin D levels. That should produce the greatest benefits possible.

[1] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 2;9(4)

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Sunlight is the Best Blood Pressure Med: the Positive Evidence Mounts, Part One.

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–


From Science Daily, research is reported on the ability of sunlight exposure to effectively lower blood pressure.[i] The research, reported earlier by Dr. Richard Weller, is not really new, but it is good to see that it is receiving more press. Even more important is the fact that Dr. Weller is a dermatologist. The study was conducted by exposing the skin of 24 healthy volunteers to ultraviolet light from tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each. In one session, they were exposed to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and the heat from the lamps; in another, the UVA rays were blocked so that only the heat was applied. Blood pressure was lowered by UVA exposure, but not by heat alone.

It has been known for some time that nitric oxide (NO) is produced by the skin in response to sunlight. NO is a potent vasodilator that relaxes the vessels and allows blood pressure to drop. Therefore, the sunlight, or tanning lamps, both of which emit UBA, become useful tools for lowering blood pressure.

It is important to note that these results were achieved with no increase in vitamin D levels. Therefore, sunlight stands on its own in reducing blood pressure. This is not to negate the positive influence of vitamin D; it is a critical factor in reducing the risk of myriad diseases. My ongoing searches of the medical and scientific literature, however, have persuaded me that most studies that assess the influence of sunlight alone are more impressive in preventing disease than those that assess only vitamin D blood levels or supplementation.

Dr. Feelisch, one of the investigators, stated the following: “These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process. It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

More on this subject will follow. In the meantime, allow yourself safe, non-burning exposure to the sun.

[i] University of Southampton (2014, January 17). Here comes the sun to lower your blood pressure. Science Daily. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2014/01/140117090139.htm.

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Sunlight is the Best Blood Pressure Med: the Positive Evidence Mounts, Part Two.

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–


In the last post, I made the point that sunlight, through the stimulation of nitric oxide (NO) production in the skin, created a vasodilating effect in healthy volunteers that led to lower blood pressure. It was also noted that the effect of sunlight on blood pressure was not due to vitamin D production and circulation, since there was no change in vitamin D levels during the investigation.

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension, and a recent study from China demonstrates that exposure to sunlight correlates to a lowered risk of that disease.[1] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sunlight exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sunlight exposure per day compared to none predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension. Oily fish consumption more than four times per week predicted a 60% reduced risk; daily moderate physical activity compared to no physical activity predicted a 20% reduced risk; being obese compared to normal weight predicted 4.6 times the risk of hypertension, and heavy smoking predicted 1.4 times the risk.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart and other vascular diseases, which are the number-one killers in western societies. Isn’t it time we made a few lifestyle changes that could profoundly reduce the risk of these diseases? The efforts to Frighten people out of the sunlight, coupled with the move to indoor living, have created unquestionable health disasters. We need to once again learn to enjoy safe, non-burning sun exposure.

[1] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X et al. Modifiable risk factors including sunlight exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

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