Heliotherapy and Vitamin D

Thanks for the wonderful and very informational site. You have posted some great info on heliotherapy. This is something that I have become a big advocate of after

1) optimizing my vitamin D level through brief periods of mid-day sun exposure and supplementation over the past few years resulting in much improved health, and

2) my recent discovery that exposure to the early morning sunlight both energizes me and has a profound effect on my sense of general health and well-being. Only now I am confused about a few things:

-Many past and present practitioners of heliotherapy insist that we should avoid the mid-day sun because of it's potentially damaging effects. Some say that sun exposure before 9:00 and after 4:00 will give us more than enough vitamin D. Yet everything I have read from doctors who specialize in vitamin D, such as Michael Holick, says that only the mid-day sun has enough UVB for our skin to produce vitamin D.

So while the early morning sun makes me feel great, I don't believe I am really getting vitamin D from it. Doesn't at least some of our exposure to the sun have to be at mid-day if we want to produce vitamin D?

But then what are we to make about the fact that much of the heliotherapy literature discourages mid-day sun exposure and says that morning (or early evening) sun exposure is far superior?

-The other side of the coin: Some of the vitamin D experts seem to say that it is actually more dangerous to get your sun exposure in the traditional "safe times" (early morning and late afternoon) because you are exposed to mainly UVA rays. I am pretty sure that Dr. Mercola has published articles on his website expressing this view. (I wonder if this is still a valid viewpoint since MD Anderson Cancer Center recently released a study that showed that the fish studies originally used to indict UVA as the cause of skin cancer were invalid.)

I guess there is just a lot to be figured out yet but I am really interested in your take on these issues.


Comments for Heliotherapy and Vitamin D

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Heliotherapy gives us more than vitamin d
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen!

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the compliment. Asking me what I think about such a complex topic is definitely an honor. And I actually HAVE thought about this topic, so I'll give you some of my thought.

So, I actually discussed the morning sunlight issue in a back newsletter called 'Benefits of Sunlight' in which I discuss Corticotropin Releasing Hormone that gets released when sunlight strikes our eyes (literally, CRH is made when sunlight strikes the outermost layer of the eye).

This may be the reason that there is a modality called 'sun gazing' in which people who practice 'gazing' at the early morning and late evening sun claim to have health benefits.

And we all know that watching a sunset is somehow uplifting, yet we are certainly not getting vitamin d from watching a sunset.

Another of my own conclusions (not based on research, only observation) that I have come to about early AM light is that it 'resets' your adrenal glands. Cortisol is highest between 6 and 7 am and I believe that the sunlight striking our eyes somehow 'Sets' our body clock for the day.

As far as the UVA, UVB light and midday sun, I really don't have much to say about that except that the heliotherapists DID comment that those who were unable to tan just simply did not get well. And the before and after pictures from the 'cured' from the sanitariums showed tanned people.

And I don't believe that you can get tanning rays in the early morning, so they MUST have taken them out in the sun at least on the fringes of the midday sun. But also remember that the heliotherapy centers were either at altitude (Switzerland and Colorado for example) or in perpetually sunny areas like Arizona and Los Angeles.

So, the 'fringe' times in these areas may have had much more powerful solar rays than might be found in, say, Minnesota at the same time of year. Plus, the centers were year round and we KNOW that you don't get Vitamin D producing rays north of 37 degrees latitude in the winter EXCEPT at midday.

Yet Switzerland is located between 45 - 47 degrees and Colorado is about 38 - 40 degrees. So, in the morning, there would be few to no vitamin d producing rays in the winter.

So, there is definitely something else going on there.

Kerri Knox RN Immune Health Queen

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune System Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Immune System

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