Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sunlight Deficiency

This is a continuation of the discussion about vitamin D supplementation. Brad's comment in: Vitamin D Supplementation: The Jury Is Not In is worth a read.

The body does not evolve or fine tune a mechanism to perform one isolated function. We're more efficient than that. (Example: the pathway to the production of cholesterol (via squalene) in the body creates a number of byproducts or metabolites. One is CoQ10, the "vitamin" people are spending lots of money on, and a vital chemical (as a co-enzyme) in the electron transport chain (where we make energy in the form of ATP). Squalene itself is a strong antioxidant. We have less CoQ10 and other important chemicals when we stop manufacturing cholesterol in our cells. In fact, taking statins inhibits their manufacture since it inhibits the manufacture of cholesterol. A number of years ago Merck considered adding CoQ10 to its statin medications to prevent the muscle wasting typical of low CoQ10 levels.

So vitamin D production in our skin is probably part of a larger picture. We know that exposure to light regulates circadian rhythms and production of other hormones - calcitonin, melatonin, as well as cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). All of these have a direct and indirect impact on sleep, lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism, bone mineralization, immunity, and so on.

I think "vitamin D deficiency" could be more accurately described as "sunlight deficiency" or maybe "photon deficiency."

I do wonder about the effects of providing one chemical, vitamin D, the manufacture of which is sunlight dependant, and not all similarly produced chemicals. What impact does a large dose of vitamin D, or a large circulating level of 25(OH)D, have on the manufacture of other light-dependant hormones? How does it affect feedback mechanisms?

It doesn't make sense to supplement with just vitamin D as compensation for sunlight deficiency. If you are going to supplement, why not provide all the chemicals and hormones in short supply as a result of inadequate sun exposure?
Photo: I don't know. I wish I could credit it. It's marvelous.


Leonard said...

As a person who needs the sun, literally, does Vitamin D have something to do with that? I get depressed when I'm in weather where the sun doesn't shine. I spent almost two months in Oregon recently and only the saw the sun like 4 days. Was horrible, my morale went down, I felt defeated...wasn't pretty. On the days the sun did shine I was uber excited (yes I said uber) and was out the whole day hiking, walking on the beach, just being outside. I felt great! I upped my milk intake but that didn't seem to help, so I'm thinking sun deprivation has more to do with vitamin k?? ;) peace

Bix said...

Leonard, you're the best testimonial for sunlight going. We should package you.

A while ago you mentioned having a cold and sitting in the sun for 20 minutes. Cold-be-gone. So I tried it. Can't say I was cured, but it felt soooo good!

Leonard said...

LOL, thanks! Yes there was a time when I felt horrible, I think it was the flu coming on, crampy, achy, the only comfortable position was the fetal one. I left work early, went to the park, it was a sunny warm day in April or May I think, took my shirt off and just sat in the sun for like 20 mins. I told myself the sun will make me feel better and I never get sick so I'm not sure what's wrong with me but I'm not sick! The sun felt amazing and I felt better and that was that, I KNOW the sun healed me. For me sickness is mind over matter, I don't get sick, so...I don't get sick. Last cold was January 2005, and that only lasted about 2 days. I hope you're feeling better and Happy Easter! ;) peace

Dr. Mel said...

Cool! And we've certainly had a ton of hot sunshine lately here in PA!

Dr. Mel said...

Btw, I *love* that photo of the sunbeam!