Richard Weller: Could the sun be good for your heart?

Do we not understand how a plant needs sunlight in various dimensions, depending upon its nativity? Check out British dermatologist Richard Weller.

The takeaway? Well, you can raise your vitamin D levels through supplementation. But, are we just working from an association fraught with the confounding variable of sunshine? It’s probably true that higher vitamin D levels are better than low. You can also get high vitamin D levels by basking in the sun, and isn’t it so odd that humans tend to have a fundamental, base, plant-like love of that?

I think it’s far more interesting to examine the associations present where, at equally high levels of vitamin D, for one individual it’s because of supplementation, and for another, due to sun exposure. This is the next thing to begin examining. In other words, vitamin D ought to be at good levels, say 50 ng/ml thereabouts. But how did you get there?

Is “cheating” really allowed?

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  1. they’re only cheating themselves

  2. Lute Nikoley says:

    I really believe that my quick recovery from sepsis is in part due to my high level of D.

    • Lute – do you have high levels of D from the sun or supplements?

      Here in FL, you can see when an older person moves here, they’re sick, pale and tired, but after a while, they’re nicely tanned, full of life and I absolutely believe gained another 10 years of their life.

      • Shelley

        It’s the essential question I’m asking here. I never sit still. Vitamin D supplementation was a huge value, in my view, but I’ve always maintained the sneaking suspicion that it’s a middle road—good, but not the best.

        Anecdotally, having spent months of vacation in tropical areas, those are the time of my life I felt most alive and well.

      • I can’t wait to see what you dig up that’s for sure. I have noticed that since I started supplementing with 3000 IUs per day, my skin seems nicer. I haven’t gotten my levels checked to see if they’ve gone up, but I have only started supplementing for a few months.

        Incidentally, I wonder if there’s a difference with people due to their skin tone. You have talked about blacks and them needing more sunlight, but what about those like me who are paler, easy to burn, and freckled? there is certainly a fine line with tanning/burning for me and here in the summer, I can’t spend more than 30 minutes in full sun.

      • Well, what I do know is that since I began supplementing and getting my level high, I seem to be able to spend unlimited time in the sun without burning.

      • A.B. Dada says:

        In the past 8 weeks of Chicago winter, I’ve been traveling to Florida and Houston for 2-4 days every 5 days.

        Everyone has been telling me that my regularly positive demeanor in person is even more positive.

        I can not imagine suffering another bleary winter without these short trips to warm climates.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        Shelley, I take in as much sunshine as possible in spring, summer and fall. When I work out in the yard, it’s always with my shirt off and in shorts. I also Supplement with 4,000 I.U. of Carlson’s Vitamin D3. More when I feel the onset of a cold.

  3. Yeah “cheating” was well worthwhile for me. The sun is nice too.

  4. Shelley,

    Red heads ( my wife and brother in law) absorb vit D supplements much quicker . It’s probably no different in sense on envy they became red heads in the first place. To take advantage of minimal sunlight and mx absorption.

    Get your level tested…after 4-6 months and than again 6 months later.


    • Interesting – so, Richard, Lute and your family supplement and burn less – I can only pray that my supplements will do that and I am anxious to see how the summer progresses because it’s no fun having to wear a zillion clothes and a hat to enjoy the FL sun.

      • Not sure about the family, Shelley, but for me it’s true and I used to have to be careful and too much sun too quick (once I have a nice tan, no problem). However, once I got levels up through supps, no problem. In fact, it almost seems as though it’s more difficult to tan. So more time, no burn, and harder to get tan.

        And, this corresponds to similar anecdotes I gotten from whitiies over the years in comments.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        I can be out in the hot sun 90+ deg. (I live in CA Central Valley) for hours and not burn. I haven’t had a sun burn in years. But it is harder to get a tan.

  5. I think now we know Traditionally living populations in East Africa have a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of 115 nmol/l. ~46ng/ml and that those levels rise during pregnancy and lactation and also with age, it’s only common sense to keep 25(OH)D around the level at which those living as human DNA evolved naturally achieve Vitamin D equilibrium.

    I have to use a catheter to pee and consequently was continually plagued with UTI and over time I became antibiotic resistant to all antibiotics available in UK.
    It was only Stoss therapy that broke that cycle and by rasing 25(OH)D to above 125nmol/l 50ng/ml that I’ve prevented the recurrence of UTI.
    Vitamin D Induction of the Human Antimicrobial Peptide Cathelicidin in the Urinary Bladder”
    Antimicrobial peptides, innate immunity, and the normally sterile urinary tract.
    We are going to have to learn to live without the benefits of antibiotics and restoring 25(OH)D levels to those human DNA evolved with is the first step to improving immune function. I live UTI free and without antibiotics even though I insert a plastic pipe 5 times daily then so can everyone else if they only applied the science.

    I think it also helps to understand the role of omega 3 and magnesium in relation to Vitamin D and their combined role in dealing with inflammation. While we are continuing looking at omega 3 , magnesium and vitamin D in isolation, rather than as a team that work better together, we will fail to see all the benefits.

    • “it’s only common sense to keep 25(OH)D around the level at which those living as human DNA evolved naturally achieve Vitamin D equilibrium.”

      Yes, Ted (and it’s wonderful to see a comment from you after a while). I’d suppose that it’s also not a straight +-10, but more like a -10, +30 range. Higher is probably better than much lower.

      “We are going to have to learn to live without the benefits of antibiotics”

      Keen insight on a number of levels. Antibodies have been a tremendous boon to humanity but the argument that they were a necessity given low D levels is an argument worth having. For my money, I’d like to see D levels up, keeping antibiotics on the shelves for urgent use, and not so ubiquitous that they have hundreds of millions of human petri dishes in which to evolve to become food for the bacteria they are supposed to kill.

      Yes on the combo. I like my D, Mag Malate, Selenium, Zinc and CLO/Butter oil combo. It’s all I need, besides a few desiccated liver tablets (that’s the “multi-vitamin”).

  6. For those of us living in the Pacific Northwest, this time of the year “cheating” is the only option besides sun tanning beds. Real sunshine is definitely better for mood and happiness index (that must be good for your heart too), as the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder implies.

    • “Real sunshine is definitely better for mood and happiness index”

      I have to agree from my own experience, Marty. At the outset, I think I was fooled into thinking it was the sups, when it was obviously the sunshine. I began all of this in the spring of 2007. I lived right above the community pool and would do a lot of my reading down there and between that and the weight loss (releasing vit D stored in fat) I was floating on air all the time. It persisted for a good long while, coupla years or so.

      Eventually, I realized I’d confounded variables and that the only way to get that high was to actually get real sunshine. I still think it’s good to keep the D levels up there with sups (i never get sick, and a “cold” is like 2 days of mild symptoms). But if you want that top-of-world rockstar feeling, there is no substitute.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        That’s probably why I feel so good when spending 10 days at the reservoir in the hot sunshine, and also at Hat Creek for 10 days.

  7. From personal/family experience, I’m convinced that sunshine is best for overall well-being, but I’m also convinced that even supplemented vitamin D (3) in the northern climes is nothing short of a miracle for immunity. Here’s just one example, a fairly spectacular one : about a month ago my entire household (4 teenagers and my husband) all came down with the worst strain of the flu that’s been going around. All had complications, bronchitis or pleuritis, and needed antibiotics, while my husband landed in the hospital with reactive pulmonary obstruction. Three had taken the shot, two hadn’t – not much difference because this strain of Influenza A is particularly virulent this year.
    They all had Not started taking their vitamin D3 (we usually start in December each winter, once our summer tans have faded). I had started however and came down relatively mild, with the sniffles and shivers for 3-4 days. This despite the fact that I am supposed to be extraordinarily susceptible this year, because I’m recovering from a massive bilateral pulmonary embolism from a couple of months ago so my lungs are weak and I’m on oxygen…. Did I mention that vitamin D is a miracle? :)
    In Canada, I remember ever since I was a child that we were advised to take it in the winter, by our doctors and by the occasional ‘public service’ announcement. I’ve always been astounded that it’s not standard practice here in the northern states.

  8. This video might make people re-think their vitamin D supplementation strategy. I think the best case scenario would be to get a good amount of natural sun exposure (plus there are benefits just to being outside, even independent of the sun). But, if for whatever reason you can’t, a good supplementation strategy might include both oral vitamin D and indoor UV exposure, from something like lizard lamps, the sperti, or maybe even tanning booths.

  9. At the end of the day, nobody cheats Nature. She always wins.

  10. I moved to Naples FL in OCT and continue to take 5000 IU 3-4 times a week. I had my levels tested in November and it was 69. I feel ok (haven’t been sick in over 5 years) but am wondering if I will feel better getting those levels up to 125.

    • Ray, if you’re going the supplementation route, I kinda doubt it. I recently had my D levels tested and it was at 129. I wasn’t experiencing any negative effects like kidney stones, and that may be due to the fact that I also supplement with K2, Magnesium, and make sure to get A from liver or cod liver oil. But I was low on energy and was actually gaining some weight. I was supplementing with 10,000 IU a day, but not getting outside as much. Since that test, I have been eating more, and eating more frequently and cleaning up my diet (was getting really lax with the cheats) and also cut the D down to 4000 IU after not touching it for a week. I’ve had more energy to work out and get outside more, and have not gained any weight (think I’m losing a little, but haven’t checked). I’m thinking that maybe at a level that high, your body doesn’t want to burn more fat, cause it might contain D itself, and it’s already dealing with a higher level than it would like. But that’s just a guess.

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