Friday, March 09, 2007

How Sunlight Can Affect Your Whole Life

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
- Anais Nin

There is no way to couch this in cutesy, comfy language. The way you see the world around you reflects the state of your mind. Your world view is how you are.

The same world that some people see as dangerous, cutthroat, self-serving and frightening is seen by other people as compassionate, helpful, kind and generally moving forward in a way that is positive for the human species.

Are both groups extreme, perhaps crazy or self-deluded? No, in fact some people see their own families along the same range. And the people they work with. The state of their lives and their health shows their view of the world around them.

Health itself can play a huge role in a person's view of the world and in how they perceive and relate to members of their family and the people at work. People who live north of a line running roughly through the middle of the temperate zones then toward the poles from there may easily suffer from depression due to insufficient vitamin D from sunlight during the coldest three seasons.

Only during the summer season (and then only if they expose their skin and their eyes to it for 10 to 15 minutes per day) is there a sufficient amount of direct sunlight that can strike the human skin enough to cause it to produce vitamin D from it. Opportunities for sufficient exposure during spring and autumn are slim. During winter, no amount of exposing of skin to sunlight is sufficient because the rays come in at the wrong (low) angle.

We can't produce our own vitamin D alone. We need sunlight or a vitamin D supplement--and then a supplement that is sufficient for our personal needs. In winter in the northerly half of the northern temperate zone and the southerly half of the southern temperate zone human skin cannot get enough direct sunlight to create the vitamin D we require.

We call it SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) when people suffer from depression or long periods of sadness or lack of cheerfulness during winter. What we don't take into account is how a deficiency of vitamin D can affect our mood or our view of life and the people we love. That varies from peson to person and little study has been done on it.

Vitamin D deficiency is not like a light switch, either on or off. It can have varying degrees of effect on how we feel at any time of any day. Like any other kind of deficiency in the human body, the effects cannot be good.

If a person who is suffering from a deficiency of vitamin D is grumpy or miserable or hard to please, it could simply be a matter of correcting a vitamin deficiency.

Note that the most powerful political and economic centres in the most powerful nations in the world all fall within that winter sunlight deficiency zone. How does that affect how countries treat each other? How does it affect how the leader of one country perceives the leader of another, and how he persuades his government to perceive the other nation as a whole? We don't know for certain. It might affect how the political system works, especially in winter.

What we do know is that a person's attitude can be affected by his health and a person's approach to the world around them reflects his attitude.

It certainly will not solve all the world's problems for world leaders and government representatives to all take vitamin D supplements during the times of year when they get too little direct sunlight on their skin each day. But it wouldn't hurt for them to know about this potential problem and its consequences so that they could take measures to protect themselves (and us) from the damage of vitamin deficiency.

And it won't hurt you and me either to take action to make our own lives and those of our loved ones better during the colder months of the year.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make little known health issues that affect our whole lives easier to understand and manage.
Learn more at

No comments: