Sunlight is important for:
- cognitive function (1)
- decreasing inflammation via UVB light (2)
- decreasing inflammation via infrared light (3)
- production of Vitamin D via ultra violet (UV) sun rays and therefore improvements in depression (4)
- increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc and therefore avoiding impaired bone mineralization and bone damage (5)
- beneficial effect on the human gut microbiome (6)
- protection against colds and flu (7)
Vitamin D insufficiency is now considered a pandemic because it is prevalent in most countries!
How is Vitamin D produced?
You need enough cholesterol and magnesium in the body to start with!
- UV radiation → photochemical synthesis of Vitamin D3 (or supplementation)
- carried in the bloodstream to the liver → converted into calcifediol → converted in the kidneys into calcitriol (biologically active form of vitamin D) → transportation of calcitriol to various organs
- calcitriol can also be synthesized by monocyte-macrophages (type of leukocytes) in the immune system where it acts locally as a cytokine, defending the body against microbial invaders by stimulating the innate immune system
How to get enough Vitamin D?
1. Sun exposure to face, arms and legs for an average of 30 minutes per day without wearing sunscreen (10 minutes = 10.000 – 20.000IU)
Be cautious with increasing sunlight when you already take medication that ups serotonin! Suicide rates were found to be higher in this case!
I had times I hated being in the sun. I felt like I should enjoy it but my mood was already down and the heat it produced was pulling me down even more. I wasn’t taking any medication at all and everything in me wanted to get home quickly to be in my dark, cool place!
If you feel being in the sun is pulling you down instead of helping you achieve a better mood: Trust your feeling and stay out!
2. Food: Egg yolk 40IU, fatty fish (salmon 3oz = 450IU), portobello mushrooms 3oz =400IU
All these options only will give you tiny amounts of Vitamin D but your body absorbs it a lot better than the supplemental options.
3. Supplementation with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol – more effective than D2)
Right now I take this 5.000IU supplement but learned that it’s better to take a lower dose a few times a day for a better serum level so I would recommend taking 2.000IU 2 times daily or a lower dose 3-4 times daily. If you should get enough Vitamin D from sunlight (summer months): Skip the supplement or take a lower dose!
And: Always buy a supplement with added fat or else you won’t get benefits from taking it!
You can use this lamp as long as you would stay in the sun what means on average 15-30 minutes. Direct the light on different body parts so that the skin will be penetrated evenly.
With a distance of 10cm this will produce 75IU per minute = 1.125IU – 2.250IU!
The serum level of calcidiol (25-Hydroxy-Cholecalciferol) should be >30 ng/ml with >50 ng/ml being optimal (max. 65ng/ml).
I’ve taken the 5.000IU supplement for about a 2 weeks and most days I’ve got 1/2 hour of sunshine (just face though because it’s winter and cooold) and did a Vitamin D test after that. 2 days later the results were mailed to me and I was so not amused by this! I was really curious if my levels would be in the optimal range or if I had to tweak my supplementation a bit. I have to tweak it definitely because it’s 33,6ng/ml and that AFTER I got sunshine and supplementation daily!
Important: Your serum level of calcidiol could also be low because you’re not consuming enough calcium (it’s then needed for the conversion to calcitriol to compensate for the calcium that’s lacking)! Please check your calcitriol level! (8)
Calcitriol level = high → likely a calcium and NOT a Vitamin D deficiency!
I used a free online calculator for Vitamin D dosage that helped me calculate how much Vitamin D supplementation was needed to get my desired serum level.
The calculator is down now and I didn’t find a free one – BUT I’ve found the formula (by Dr. von Helden) you can easily apply for your Vitamin D3 optimization:
(Desired increase in ng/ml) x (body weight in kg) x 0.028 = Number of 5.000 IU capsules → multiply with 5.000 to get overall IU intake needed! → divided by days you’d like to megadose (11 days or more) = IU amount per day → divided by supplementation dose (e . g. 5.000 IU) = daily capsule intake for the desired amount of days!
(Target value in ng/mL) x (body weight in kg) x 0.0056 = number of 5.000 IU capsules per month!
Now you could calculate your monthly IU needs and adjust your supplementation accordingly e. g. only take supplements when not in the sun!
Click here to view my Optimal-Vitamin D-Level-Challenge!
From sunlight: None
From supplementation: Rare – just when taken in excess (I wouldn’t recommend >10.000 IU/day)
If you opt for Vitamin D supplementation you should consume Vitamin K because an imbalance may be harmful! (see my blog post)
Please consult your doctor prior to taking Vitamin D supplementation because in some diseases hypercalcemia can occur (≥ 40,000 IU per day) which is deadly!
Synergy Effects with Vitamin D
- Vitamin K → takes calcium where its needed most minimizing risk of kidney stones and heart disease and promoting bone and teeth resistance (see my blog post)
- Magnesium → required for activation of vitamin D to calcitriol
- Zinc → most likely promotes intestinal absorption of Vitamin D (and vice versa) + increases activation rate of gene expression by Vitamin D
How to get the benefits of infrared light
Infrared light works through the warmth it produces. This warmth penetrates the skin only a few millimeters but it is sufficient to help your body heal itself (injuries, inflammation, acne). Depression is linked to inflammation therefore you should try to incorporate infrared light into your daily routine and see if it does something for you. Studies suggest that it also helps with activity levels – at least in rats and I think alone this is worth a try!
I will let you know if it helped me!
What’s on my experimentation wish list:
- Vielight Neuro (Intranasal phototherapy device + transcranial stimulation)
The Vielight Neuro (Low level laser therapy – LLLT) is really not affordable for everybody but it has great reviews and impressive studies to back it up! It works with a 850nm infrared light so you could try the cheaper version from Vielight or an infrared light device with exactly this output.
15 minutes on the whole head should be sufficient (move it around every 2 minutes) – just don’t get much more on one spot because you could burn yourself! In the beginning better try for a shorter period of time since you could get fatigued the next day if your inflammation level is high!
Start with 10 seconds per spot (total: 2 minutes) and work your way upward when the tiredness vanishes. I haven’t tested the devices for myself. You won’t get the transcranial stimulation but if you should be interested in this as well (which seems quite helpful with depression), there are transcranial-only devices. I will post an article on this in the future.
Use this every 3-5 days.
Other potential healing uses:
Skin (acne, aging), injuries, stomach, thymus (increases immune tolerance), teeth (increases dentin), thyroid (increases thyroid hormones), liver (liver regeneration), nerve healing
There is a lot of infrared stuff on the market which could also be worth buying for you:
- Infrared sauna (also portable versions)
- Healing Mats
- Pain relief devices
- Clothing – I’m a bit skeptic to if this works but it’s too funny not to post 😀
Warning: Please close your eyes while using the infrared light! The eye’s retina is really sensitive and can be damaged when the eyelid is not shut! The infrared light also can penetrate the skin of the eyelid so I wouldn’t recommend to use the light on your eyes – just keep the red light away from your eyes 🙂 You could use safety glasses as well!
Use it before going to bed because it could make you really sleepy!
Potential side effects
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive laziness the day after usage
- Eye pain
Please consult your doctor or therapist prior to experimenting with infrared light! Here is a FAQ for any questions you could have regarding Low level laser therapy.
10.000 lux for a happier you
When you’re fatigued most of the day maybe a day light source with 10.000 lux can help you?
All you have to do is switch on the lamp after waking up and stay in front of it for a minimum of 30 minutes. It’s safe to use through the whole day because it doesn’t emit any UVA/UVB light (in the evening you should get sleepy so don’t turn it off too late).
I have purchased this handy device which should help me stay awake morning till afternoon!
I will experiment with the exposing time and let you know if it helped me!
What’s also worth buying
Wake-up-light like the one I have. This will give your mornings a stress-free start! I won’t ever miss the alarm and stress I felt before switching to this beautiful wake-up-method!
Blue light blocking glasses. These are the ones I use. It helps you to sleep better in the night when you can’t stay away from lights or smartphones or computer screens. It simply blocks out all the blue light so that your sleeping hormone melatonin can get you tired. Otherwise it won’t show up because it hates blue light 🙁
I had trouble falling asleep for years but with a few tweaks I fall asleep like a baby!
I hope this article helped you find something to try out for yourself! If you should have any questions regarding this article please feel free to ask me in the comment section below. I’d be thrilled if you would share your experience with sunlight or “sunlight replacement” with me 🙂