The Power of the Sun

As the sun shown down on me this morning during my drive to the Osage Beach office, I reflected on the power of the sun.  It was 37 degrees outside – the very same temperature as it was yesterday morning while the rain that had fallen for a couple days had turned to snow. But this 37 degree morning just felt different, without the rain or the snow or the fog because the sun was shining.

The sun is powerful, and we are just beginning to understand this essential center of our solar system. It is the best and finest source of vitamin D, which is responsible for many processes in our bodies. It also gives off ultraviolet (UV) light.  Interestingly, both vitamin D and UV light have been the source of multiple scientific studies, and of derision, during this last year. Let me explain.

Several years ago, I attended an excellent lecture on the benefits of vitamin D3 supplementation, not only to prevent infantile rickets and to build stronger bones but also for immune health. I began my daily supplementation of vitamin D3 afterwards, and at levels much higher than “recommended.”  Rest assured, I checked my levels on occasion, and have suffered no ill consequences of “overdose” despite the doses of 5-10,000 IU daily. The benefit for me has been this – no illnesses. No “colds,” no influenza, no “GI bugs.” Even my propensity for catching infectious conjunctivitis (“pink eye”) were dramatically reduced. For 3-4 years now I have been taking the nutraceutical D3 with K2, with absorption second only to intravenous. I have missed NO days of work for illness since instituting this into my routine.  And I am around sick people nearly every day.

Now I see there are studies that have linked low vitamin D levels, into the deficiency range, to increased risk and severity of respiratory tract infections, including the acute respiratory distress of infection with SARS-COV-2. Cautiously, researchers say vitamin D “might” aid in prevention of infection with the virus with which our world is currently obsessed, that it “may” act as a strong immunosuppressant inhibiting the release of the cytokines in COVID-19 infections that can cause the severe illness, and that it “might” prevent loss of neural sensation. To attempt to debunk the obvious value of D3 supplementation, a recent article was published of patients already hospitalized with the COVID-19 infection, but I see this strategy as closing the barn door after the horses are already out.  Vitamin D supplementation should be a part of our every-day regimen, and we should not expect the institution of same to come to the rescue when it is far too late to do any help.  Why not study firefighters urinating on that California forest fire and see if that puts the fire out?

Now, the UV light stuff.  I happened to read an article evaluating the use of UVC light, which has been known to kill airborne influenza virus as well as “inactivating” 99.9% of a couple other human coronaviruses (the SARS-COV-2 itself was not studied).  It is well-known that UVC radiation reduces person-to-person viral transmission.  Even per the FDA, “UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of SARS coronavirus.”  The only problem with this form of UV light is it is dangerous when directly exposed to eyes and skin. The FDA states the UVC “used inside air ducts to disinfect the air . . . is the safest way to employ UVC radiation.”

After reading these articles (and doing a bit more research) I contacted our AirServe Heating and Air Conditioning fella and met with him to discuss this. I am proud to say that our suites in Osage Beach are now complete with UVC treatment to our air ducts, thereby assuring the death of not only respiratory-illness-causing viruses, but also bacteria, mold, and other nasty players.

No, I don’t mask. Yes, I hug my patients.  But I not only take vitamin D3 supplements, I encourage my patients to do the same. And I am treating the very air that circulates throughout our suites. That goes a LOT farther to genuinely accomplish what the masks and distancing and sheltering in place cannot.

It’s not the sun, but it’s second best. You’re welcome.