Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Vitamin D lamps

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Vitamin D is made by the body when sunlight hits the skin. There’s a cholesterol compound (7-dehydrocholesterol) just beneath the skin that gets irradiated by UVB light and it breaks down into vitamin D.

Vitamin D is as much a prohormone as it is a vitamin. Aside from helping us to absorb and use calcium, it also has a huge impact on the behaviour of the immune system. Vitamin D prevents tumour growth and even shrinks existing tumours. Cancer rates are conversely correlated to vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also has a significant impact on autoimmune diseases. Low levels of vitamin D are a direct risk factor for the development of a wide range of autoimmune diseases, and, rather like steroids (vitamin D is in fact a steroid hormone), vitamin D suppresses the part of the immune system that attacks the body in autoimmune disease.

Any wideband UVB lamp should work to produce vitamin D. Some sources on the internet say that the vitamin D range is 270-290nm – which is into the UVC range, others say it is 290-315nm, which is the normal UVB range. I’m having trouble clarifying this, but either way, any wideband lamp should work.

You can get vitamin D / UVB lamps on ebay and from specialist allergy sites, they’re marketed for psoriasis. If they are strong enough to have warnings about tanning and burning on them, then they are strong enough to make vitamin D. You can even get UVB bulbs for your pet reptiles, though I am not sure whether they are strong enough or would cover enough of your body if you sat in front of one.

Otherwise, access to a sunbed that is fitted with Philips “Cleo Natural” UVA/UVB tubes will work. All sunbeds make small amounts of UVB and people who use sunbeds throughout the year have been found to have higher vitamin D levels, but this sounds a bit hit and miss.

Sperti make specialist vitamin D lamps.

UK buyers: they do not ship to the UK as they say that they do not work with UK power. I have ordered one from a reseller, instead. According to the manual the Sperti lamp is AC only, 110-120v, 60/50Hz, 800 watt. It is the 800 watt that is the problem, you need a specialist adapter that costs between £60-80. Maplin do not sell them, but they are available from a few online stores. Look for a step down voltage converter that goes up to more than 800 watts (a bit of leeway is always a good idea, I went for one that went up to 1000 watts).

UVB light is present in sunlight, on a sunny day, for the two hours either side of noon – from about 10am to 2pm – or, in British Summer Time, 11am to 3pm. However, in the winter, the angle of the sun can be too low in higher latitudes to make UVB light for much of the day, so the period of UVB exposure around noon can be shorter. Cloud cover shields us from UVB light. I found a vitamin D weather/latitude calculator online.

It is both more positive and more negative than the widespread view. According to them, it may be that vitamin D is still produced at higher latitudes, even in winter, however it is severely compromised by cloud/ozone cover – and also clothing. Hands up if you feel like bikini sunbathing in the winter? At the very least you need to expose your head, neck and the whole of your arms to the sun, for about an hour.

Also, if you didn’t know, UVB does NOT penetrate through normal glass. You can’t sunbathe in your conservatory or greenhouse.

Update: I’ve been using my Sperti vitamin D lamp for some time now. It’s brilliant, and it makes me feel a lot better, especially during the winter. I try to use it every other day. It has a timer on it that switches off after five minutes, and won’t allow a switch on again until the element cools. This is to prevent you from burning yourself, because UVB light will burn you after just three to five minutes of exposure. I tend to wind the timer back to the start before it switches off, and expose a different area of my body to the light – I generally do top front, bottom front, top back, bottom back, so that I get fifteen or twenty minutes of exposure time across different parts of my body. Because it can cause burning, I try not to expose my face for more than three minutes, or I end up looking rather red! An egg timer can help. I always use it on my breasts, because vitamin D is important in preventing breast cancer, which runs very strongly in my family, and being rather shy about topless sunbathing, using a sun lamp is the only time I’ll ever get sunlight to them.


Written by alienrobotgirl

12 February, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Vitamins

One Response

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  1. Just a note about the Sperti D lamp. When it came out last year (or was it the year before?), I called and spoke to a woman on the phone at Sperti who told me that the D lamp uses the same bulb as their other lamps. According to that info, there is no need to spend more money on their D lamp, you can just get one of their less expensive lamps – which I did, from ebay. I need to use it more, though!Steph


    16 February, 2007 at 4:54 am

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