Low Vitamin D may not be about Day light but rather about Darkness

Written by Changing Habits

August 16, 2012

When you consider that we started using fire 1.8 million years ago our evolutionary biology had time to adapt to the extra light at night by the fire emitted, but it is just under 100 years since the electrical light bulb came into existence, changing our sleep patterns forever.

More so the invention of television, computer screens and other screen devices changed everything regarding our sleep patterns, sleep cues and seasonal changes and this in turn affects our biology and biochemistry.

Consider more than 100 years ago, there was no television, no lights, and no screens.  When daylight was finished a few candles and fires stayed burning but they weren’t bright enough to change the 1.8 million years of biological evolution and living with fire.

We have adapted over time to night and day and the seasons.  Long days signaled to the brain that summer was here, food was plentiful and this was a great time to increase metabolism, prepare for pregnancy and less sleep.  But with the event of electricity all that changed and with it our biology and biochemistry is having a hard time trying to adapt.   In fact it isn’t adapting and the body is struggling to maintain homeostasis.  If the body does not maintain homeostasis – disease results.   In the past 60 plus years lifestyle diseases are increasing at an unprecedented rate.

We are not adapting to the new foods – in the form of fortified foods, additives, preservatives, flavourings, hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial sugars, modified milks and so on.  Our lack of sleep also has a significant role to play in our health, we have not adapted to the extra light time and sleepless nights.  We know what lack of sleep can do we have all experienced it, judgment is lost, coordination decreases and the bodies biochemistry changes.   When we don’t sleep we change the body’s night and day circadian rhythms, thus seasonal adjustments and changing many facets of our health.

Summer signaled the abundance of day light and food, the body stored fat and prepared itself for fertility.  Summer was a good time to become pregnant and then give birth in the spring when food was once more available after the lean winter months (in nature this still happens).  When the sun went down we slept, that stopped the production of serotonin and increased the production of melatonin the sleeping healing hormone. There was no light shining in our eyes to summon the production of serotonin and the stopping of melatonin, only the sun coming up signaled this.   But these days it would be nothing for someone to wake in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and put the light on thus changing the body’s biochemistry.

A reproducing women’s cycle should be 28 days dictated by the moon, but now we don’t even see the moon and we are unaware of the moon cycles therefore causing menstrual cycles to be irregular and not being aware of our own body’s functions.

Dr Jack Kruse – neurosurgeon and leptin (fat hormone) expert believes that children’s behaviour and obesity levels is all to do with video games, not because of the violence and the time spent sitting and playing the game but that children stay up late at night with light shining in their eyes, changing the brain and bodies biology and biochemistry.

Dr Kruse says that when a child does watch a video game, it may not have a huge effect if a child is watching during sun break hours. But it has a massive affect when it’s after the sun is set and the kids are getting bombarded with LED lights that completely unyoke their biologic systems. It affects their sleep and it actually affects their metabolism. And it can set the tone for inflammation at the brain level that can cause leptin resistance that can cause obesity and ADD behaviour.

TS Wiley in her book Lights Out and sleep expert says that our epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency is not so much about how much sunlight we get but rather how much darkness we don’t have.  She believes that bright lights and screens should not be used after sunset, allowing for the body to adjust to its evolutionary biology. She says that just 10 minutes of sunshine a day is enough for the body to produce all the vitamin D it needs for health, the Mayo Clinic supports this notion, but without at least 9 hours of full darkness no matter how much sunlight you get there will never be enough Vitamin D produced.

Last week nutrition experts in Australia came out saying that up to 40% of Australia’s population were deficient in vitamin D and that there was a call to fortify milk and dairy.  This country has more sun than any other but we probably have less sleep than many cultures.  We don’t need to fortify our foods with vitamin D we just need to change our lifestyle and eating patterns and be diligent about our sleep.  The more sleep the longer you live.

I was curious as to how they would fortify food with vitamin D and where would the vitamin D be sourced from.  It took me a few phone calls to find that much of the vitamin D in our vitamins and minerals comes from a chemical factory in Germany.  While I couldn’t find what vitamin D was made from I did find out that Vitamin A is  made from acetone.

Vitamin D is an important vitamin and some experts say it is more a hormone then a vitamin.  It has many functions but two that are particularly important is that it supports the immune and digestive system and without this vitamin, bacteria, viruses and parasites can take hold as well as the perpetuation of allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Once again we have a health system that sees the body as black and white, low D take more, but this does not fix the problem – yes it may increase serum vitamin D but other factors are not being taken into account.  The rate our health authorities are going they will have every food fortified, already, bread has a mandatory fortification of iodine and folic acid, flour has been fortified for years with vitamins B1 and B3. Breakfast cereals have B vitamins and iron.  Calcium is added to milk and now vitamin D to dairy.

The only thing that will fix the ailing health system is a big fat overhaul, where diet and lifestyle, (including sleep) becomes the fundamentals behind health.

Get more sleep and happy changing habits.

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