William B Grant, PhD

Embrace the Sun: Are You Dying in the Dark?

Episode Aired on Dec 7, 2018


  • Vitamin D is a hormone formed from a type of cholesterol under the skin from UVD exposure
  • The hormonal version of vitamin D can go into the vitamin D receptors which are on every cell of the body.
  • It can affect gene expression turning some genes on and some genes off
  • People have different skin pigmentation depending on the normal ultra violet doses for the area
  • It is a trade off from protecting the skin from protecting the skin from free radical damage and skin cancer melanoma and destruction of folate in the serum and allowing enough UVB through the cholesterol layer to produce vitamin D
  • As people moved to Northern Europe and the skin became paler so they could produced the amount of vitamin d needed for optimal health

Benefits of Vitamin D

  • Before 2000, it was thought that vitamin D dealt only with calcium absorption and metabolism, prevention of osteoporosis and rickets
  • Vitamin D reduces the damage from heart attacks, strokes and blood pressure
  • Since then, the following diseases were linked to vitamin D deficiency / UVB exposure
    • cancer
      • Disease patterns correlated with UVB exposure
        • The Garlin brothers observed that colon cancer mortality rates were lower in the Southwestern states than the Northeastern states. They postulated that UVB reduced risks of colon cancer.
        • New maps indicated the same pattern for many cancers. This was not attributable to diet.  Some clinical trials show no difference, but they mistakenly assume there is no other source of vitamin D  (so if levels are higher, giving vitamin D and increasing the level will not improve health risk.
        • Breast cancers are diagnosed in he spring and fall
          • In the summer, sunlight reduces the risk of breast cancer
          • Some people believe in the winter, melatonin reduces the risk of breast cancer
            • Blind people have less breast cancer than sighted people
          • Getting Vitamin D level up to 60 or 70 nano grams per milliliter is more beneficial than lower levels
        • Parkinson’s Disease, food allergies and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
          • These diseases had a similar geographical pattern are food
        • Cardio vascular disease and infections
          • Cardiovascular disease rates are lower in the summer throughout the world
          • sun exposure releases nitric oxide from under the skin
          • blood pressure increases as one goes further from the tropics
          • Observational studies show the higher levels of vitamin D result in lower risk of cardiac diseases
        • all cause mortality rates
          • Swedish study, designed to study the incidence of melanoma and time in the sun, those who spent the most time in the sun had half the mortality rate after the age of 70 of those who spent very little time in the sun
        • Melanoma
          • No increased risks
          • The Garlands found that Navy men submariners had more risk than those who worked on deck
          • 5 % of all cancer cases are related to melanoma.
            • Only 1.5 % of all cancer deaths are linked to melanoma
            • Only 1 /300 deaths in the US are related to melanoma
          • Sun exposure protects from melanoma by thickening the skin, tanning , producing vitamin D which does reduce melanoma
          • Most melanomas are found on parts of the body not exposed to the sun
          • Highest risk is for people who occasionally get sunburned.
          • Sunscreens prevent this protection
            • Garlands found that those in the North of 40 degrees who used sunscreen had a higher risk for melanoma. Sunscreen protected people  South of the forty degrees
            • Sunscreen does not prevent against the long wave UVA which penetrates deeper into the skin and is a risk factor for melanoma
              • UVB and short UVA waves cause the sun-burning
            • Wearing sunscreen every day, he believes is misguided.
            • Sunscreen is OK if a person who rarely goes out and gets sunburned – he recommends that they put it on after a time in the sun

Very few diseases increase with sun exposure

  • Most diseases will decrease with sun exposure
  • There are 5125 deaths per year associated with too much sun exposure
  • Diseases associated with increased sun exposure
    • Salivary cancer, lip cancer, cervical cancer, myeloma leukemia, lymphocyte leukemia
    • Basil cell and squamous cell carcinoma’
      • Are 1 – 2 million new cases per year
    • There are 1.5 million diseases associated with too little sun exposure

People who develop melanoma have 20 % the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease as people who did not get skin cancer

The following diseases are associated with lack of sun exposure

  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer
    • New study shows that people who got their vitamin D up to 70 have 1/5 mortality than those with a serum level of 15
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gall bladder cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Pharyngeal cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Lung cancer

Sunshine helps some of the mechanisms that cure cancer

Vitamin d fights some of the risk factors

  • Meat and animal products should be considered important risk factor for any type of cancer
  • Other risk factors include smoking, alcohol,

Meat is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

  • First study to show that was a Seventh Day Adventist study in 1993
    • The meat eaters had Alzheimer’s Disease at 2 -3 times the non meat eaters.
  • Grant did a study in 2016 looking prevalence of Alzheimer’s in 10 – 11 countries. The total meat + eggs+ fish had the highest correlation with Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Cholesterol is a risk for Alzheimer’s disease
    • Trace minerals iron in meat
  • He had studied the effect of acid rain on forest soils
    • Acid rain leeches out the base minerals such as calcium and potassium
    • As the pH lowers it dissolves aluminum and all the transitional ions such as iron, mercury and zinc
    • The trees use whatever is available and can decline
    • At the University of Kentucky, the studied the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and found exactly the same chemistry
    • Eating animal products will increase these transitional metal ions such as aluminum or iron and reduce the concentration of calcium, potassium and aluminum
    • Vegetables have a lot of antioxidants
    • Some say the Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 %
    • Of the rates of the US, Brazil or Mongolia (where there are the highest rates ) But these have twice the rate of places that have primarily vegetarian diets
      • European Newspapers published about hamburger’s risk for Alzheimer’s Disease where as the Indian newspapers said that their diet reduces Alzheimer’s Disease
    • His study controlled for dietary factors that meat eaters might eat fewer vegetables
      • It is a trade off between legumes, beans rains and animal products
      • In the tropics people eat manly legumes
      • In the North people eat more animal products so there are latitude variations in cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease which he relates to diet
    • The vitamin D levels average about 22 through out the world except in the Middle Easter countries where they wear a lot of clothes and don’t like to be outside during the summer


Sunlight adds to the benefits of vitamin D

  • It increases nitric oxide
  • Fewer diseases during the summer
  • Tuberculosis used to be treated by putting people in the sun
  • There were data from 12 communities and went to each house and asked if anyone in the house developed influenza and if so did they die ( a case fatality rate study) fatality rate than those without UVB.
  • The communities with more sunlight and UVB had lower fatalities. There are two explanations
    • Vitamin D induced kappa-cidin that fights bacterial and viral infections
    • UVB changes the chemical messengers call cytokines from pro inflammatory cytokines to anti inflammatory cytokines concluding if a person had the flu with irritated lung lining, they were much more likely to get influenza
    • Influenza is also a risk for cardiovascular disease


Benefits of Vitamin D to pregnant women

  • When women get pregnant, their hormonal version of Vitamin D ( 1, 25) vitamin D)doubles almost immediately. This is important in gene expression, and gene expression is important at this time.
    • Genes are the roadmap for development
    • It is important to have the proper genes turned on and the unimportant genes turned off.
  • Bruce Hollis, carol Wagner for the University of South Carolina have studied pregnant women for ten years
    • They gave vitamin D 3, 6000 iu three per day starting  in 12 twelve week
    • Had reach 40 nano grams per milliliter to get to the point that the hormonal version of Vitamin d plateaued
  • Carol Bagley, Hollis and Wagner did a study where they followed white, Hispanic and African American pregnant women who were told to take them up until they reached a level of Vitamin D greater than 40.
    • Those who achieved grater that 40 nanograms had a 50 % chance of premature birth that the persons whose levels were around 10 – 15 nanograms.
      • Premature birth is expensive for the hospital
      • Premature birth is a risk factor for early infant death and poor development
    • White women have and average vitamin D concentrations of 26
    • African Americans have an average level of 16
      • They have higher risks of premature birth,
    • Hispanics had Vitamin D levels of 21 nanograms per liter
  • Another study showed the risk of caesarian sections were lower with higher Vitamin D levels
  • Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes were reduced with higher levels of vitamin D
  • For the infant there is a reduced incidence of asthma, autism and rickets for mothers with higher levels of Vitamin D
    • Mechanisms for low vitamin D levels increasing risk of autism
      • Women produce serotonin which is linked to executive function. Low levels of serotonin are linked with autism
      • Grant states that he believes the increased risk of autism is related to vaccinations
      • Autism is the final common pathway of everything that can go wrong. Each child is different
        • Katherine Reid, PhD (unblindmymind.com) reversed her child’s autism symptoms by taking glutamate out of the child’s diet
        • Vitamin D contributes to improvement of all these pathways
        • Vitamin improves the symptoms of autism but does not cure autism.
      • Children are the canaries in the coal mind as they are more vulnerable than the rest of us


Benefits of sun exposure

  • Skin is the largest organ in the body The sun activates the skin’s neuro endocrine system through many pathways
  • The sun releases beta endorphins which go to the brain to make us feel happy
  • The blue light from the sun helps regulate the circadian rhythms
    • This happens by receptors in the eye transmitting the message to the pineal gland where it affects melatonin and serotonin
  • Increases nitric oxide and decreases blood pressure
  • It helps resolve wrinkles and helps heal wounds.



Relation of skin colour and ability to use sunlight

  • Very dark skin would need the person to stay in the sun 3-5 times longer than a pale person
  • AS one ages, the amount of cholesterol in the skin decreases, so they need more time in the sun
  • As people’s skin tone changes, the mechanism change
  • Bruce Ames and Dr. Grant believes that the health disparities between different skin tones may be related to the different abilities to produce vitamin D
  • Bruce Ames was in Copenhagen and noticed that when the sun comes out they go out and sun bathe because it feels good


Tanning Beds

  • The tanning beds spectrum is designed for tanning and not vitamin D production
    • UVA tans but does not help with vitamin d production
  • Very pale skin should not do tanning
  • Red haired, freckled people don’t tan well.
    • In Australia, they are hesitant to recommend staying in the sun due to a large number of red haired folks
  • He believes that supplementing with a tanning bed could help with vitamin D


Osteoporosis and Vitamin D

  • Report by Herodotus in Ancient History reported that the Egyptians had thick skulls (they shaved their heads from childhood) and the Persians had thin skulls (they wore skull caps)
    • Egypt had a sun god, Rah
  • Vitamin D and UVB are important for bone formation especially in the first 20 – 25 years of life
  • Giving people vitamin d or Calcium after the age of 60 or 70 does not do much for mineral strength and bone density.
  • It is important that people get their sun exposure and calcium early in life.


Vitamin D and Mental Illness

  • Depression
    • There are types of depression
      • Melancholic, atypical depression and seasonal
      • Seasonal Depression can be affected by other than Vitamin D
        • Is prominent during the winter months
        • The typical treatment is light therapy
      • Melancholic Depression is affected by vitamin D


Parkinson’s Disease

  • There are geographic differences: the higher latitudes have more Parkinson’s Disease than the lower latitudes


Multiple Sclerosis

  • Almost none in the tropics, and it increases in a linear fashion as one goes North



  • The Institution of Medicine in 2010 recommended target level of vitamin D 20 nano grams per milliliter and a dose of 600 – 800 IU per day.
    • This was done by a drug company and looked only at bone health
  • He recommends getting g Vitamin d levels up to 40 nano grams per milliliter if not higher
  • There is no danger even if levels are above 100 nano grams per milliliters.
    • One man had levels of 800 nano grams per milliliter. At levels of 400 nano grams per milliliters
    • If you are in the sun with the whole body exposed for an hour, the body can make 10,000 units per day.
    • The half-life of Vitamin D is 2 ½ weeks so one can take a higher dose weekly.
    • Studies show that taking a large dose monthly does not help as much because the levels of Vitamin D go up high and drop too low
    • You can find out more at
      • grassrootshealth.net
      • VitaminDCouncil.org
      • VitaminDwiki.com
      • The first two sell a blood spot test to determine Vitamin D levels
        • Cost $50 and requires only 3 drops of blood and send it to them
      • Vitamin D 2 is made from yeast and mushrooms and is not as effective as Vitamin D 3
        • Vitamin D 2 does not last in the body as long and is not as effective.
        • Vitamin D 3 is a fat soluble vitamin
      • Take Magnesium as it helps convert Vitamin D to 25 hydroxy  Vitamin D (which is measured in the blood)
        • Don’t take oxide, glycinate or citrate
        • Magnesium helps lower blood pressure, helps with muscle cramps


William Grant, PhD