Can Lack Of Sunshine Cause Erectile Dysfunction And A Low Libido?
By Johnathan P Cumberwell
- Firstly, the sun is a life-giving force that your body and mind need in order to function optimally. This also includes sexual functions
- Secondly, the sun enables your skin to produce vitamin D3. And you need vitamin D3 in order to produce testosterone
- In addition, sunshine also helps you manufacture nitric oxide and dopamine
What Is Sunshine?
Energy from the sun comes to earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The term radiation simply means that the energy travels as rays, or in straight lines.
It takes about 8 minutes for this radiation to travel from the sun to planet earth.
We experience this radiation as sunshine, which is a combination of light and heat.
This sunshine consists of three different kinds of radiation:
- Infrared radiation
- Visible radiation, and
- Ultraviolet radiation
You can’t see infrared radiation. It’s invisible to the human eye because it has longer wavelengths than those we can see. But although you can’t see it, you still feel it. As heat.
In fact, all objects in the universe emit some level of infrared radiation. And for us, the most obvious source is probably the sun.
The sun gives off about half of its energy in the form of infrared radiation.
Let’s look at a quick example:
An apple appears green because it reflects the wavelengths we see as green, and absorbs all the other wavelengths.
Why is the sky blue?
Because when the visible radiation passes through the atmosphere, clean air scatters (or spreads) blue wavelengths more than other wavelengths. Therefore the sky appears blue during the day.
Since UVA radiation has longer wavelengths, it is more nimble (or leaner) than UVB. It is therefore able to penetrate the atmosphere, clouds, smog and even glass.
As a result, UVA radiation penetrates through your skin and deeper into your body than UVB radiation.
Although UVA radiation is less intense than UVB radiation, UVA is about 30 times more prevalent. UVA radiation also has relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year.
UVB radiation, on the other hand, has shorter wavelengths. Therefore it only penetrates the skin’s outer layer.
It is also the main cause of sunburn.
UVB radiation cannot penetrate glass, is partially blocked by clouds, dust, air pollution and the atmosphere in general, and is typically blocked by sunscreens.
Unlike UVA radiation, UVB radiation is normally only significant during the few hours of the day when the sun is around its highest point in the sky.
Because it then has less atmosphere to get through.
Let’s understand how sunshine enables you to produce vitamin D3.
How Does The Sun Enable You To Produce Vitamin D3?
Firstly, a form of cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) that sits in your skin, absorbs this UBV radiation.
With the energy the cholesterol gets from UBV, it starts to manufacture a form of vitamin D, called cholecalciferol.
This cholecalciferol still needs to go through two transformations before it becomes vitamin D3.
Therefore it first travels through the bloodstream to your liver, where it’s turned into something called calcidiol.
This then travels to your kidneys. Here it is converted into the active form of vitamin D3, calcitriol.
Now you finally have vitamin D3.
Calcitriol is then released into your bloodstream where it can carry out the functions of vitamin D3. Such as regulating how your body uses calcium and phosphorus, etc.
Before we move on, let’s first learn more about vitamin D3, and what purposes it serves in your body.
What Is Vitamin D And Why Do You Need It?
Although there seems to be two slight differences in regards to toxicity and half-life.
Research has indicated that vitamin D2 is potentially more toxic than D3, at very high doses.
Also, a research study has found that the half-life life of vitamin D2 is slightly lower than that of vitamin D3. Half-life is the amount of time until half of the ‘stuff’ is no longer there. You can think of this as the amount of time the vitamin is still active.
Where do we find these two D vitamins?
You get vitamin D2 mostly from fungi and yeast, but research has also concluded that some plants also contain vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 can be obtained from foods such as fatty fish, fish liver oil, animal fats, and egg yolk.
Many dairy products (and other foods) are also fortified with vitamin D. The type of D vitamin that is normally used, is vitamin D2 because it is cheaper to produce.
However, it can still be difficult to get enough vitamin D2 or D3 from foods, as foods are generally not very rich in these vitamins.
Therefore, the balance needs to be provided by the sun. Or alternatively by a vitamin D supplement.
That said, personally I always prefer the natural source to supplements.
Can you get too much vitamin D3 from the sun?
No. It is practically impossible to overdose on vitamin D3 from sunlight, as your body stops making it when the level approaches sufficiency.
But you can get too much vitamin D from supplements, and this can cause complications.
What do we need vitamin D for?
One key function of vitamin D is to increase plasma calcium and phosphate levels, which in turn are required for building and maintaining your bones.
The maintenance of calcium levels is also required for proper functioning of muscles and tissues, vasodilatation (expansion of blood vessels), nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.
Vitamin D is also essential for proper cell growth and function, and a well functioning immune system.
Scientific studies have also demonstrated that vitamin D can suppress cancer cell growth. So although too much sun may cause skin cancer, appropriate amounts of sun can stop various cancers.
At least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body are now thought to be regulated by vitamin D3.
But what if you don’t get enough vitamin D?
Severe deficits may cause Rickets or Osteomalacia, the classical vitamin D deficiency diseases.
Rickets, which is a disease unique to children and adolescents, is characterized by a failure of bone tissue to properly mineralize, causing softening of the bones and skeletal deformities.
Osteomalacia is a similar condition occurring in adults.
Vitamin D deficiency can also cause erectile dysfunction and a weak libido, but more about that shortly.
Some of the other issues that can arise from vitamin D deficiency are:
Muscle pain, high blood pressure, restless sleep, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, infertility, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
How much sunshine do you need to produce one day’s worth of vitamin D3?
A person with pale skin would need approximately 10-20 minutes of sunshine, to get one day’s worth of vitamin D3.
This assumes that large parts of the body are exposed, such as the upper body and legs. And also no use of sunscreen, or only sunscreen on the face.
Which means that you could get one week’s reserves of vitamin D3 by being in the sun for about an hour and a half.
For a person whose skin is darker, the amount of time needed to produce the same amount of vitamin D3, could be 3-5 times more.
Did you know that..
Vitamin D deficiency has actually become a big problem around the world, and is by many health professionals called an epidemic?
Why are so many people vitamin D deficient?
First of all, many people are afraid of the sun because it causes wrinkles. And because it can cause skin cancer. Therefore, a lot of people avoid the sun, cover up, or put on sunscreen.
Secondly, many people also spend most of their time indoors. Lots of people spend almost all day inside buildings working or studying, and many also spend most of their leisure time inside.
Therefore, even in sunny parts of the world like Australia, the Mediterranean, India, California, etc., a large portion of the population is vitamin D deficient.
Research studies done on vitamin D deficiency show that in most parts of the world, including the very sunny ones, the deficiency is often as high as 30-50%.
This figure is normally even higher during the winter months when there is less sunshine, and also among older people.
There are many very important reasons for why you need vitamin D. But in regards to your sexual functions, there are three very important reasons:
- Nitric oxide
All these element are essential in order to function well sexually.
So if 30-50% of the population does not have adequate levels of vitamin D, it is also fair to assume that about the same proportion of people are deficient in testosterone, nitric oxide and dopamine.
Let’s dig into this connection between sunshine and sexual functions.
How Does The Sun Improve Sexual Functions?
- The sun is a life-giving force that is simply essential for your overall health
- Sunshine helps your body produce testosterone
- Sunshine improves your capacity to produce nitric oxide
- Sunshine facilitates your production of dopamine
Sunshine Is A Life-giving Force
Sunshine Enables You To Produce Testosterone
Many men on planet earth have low testosterone. Many men on planet earth are also vitamin D deficient.
There is a connection?
Then what is the link between sunshine, vitamin D and testosterone?
As we already know, UVB radiation helps you produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 (or D2) in turn, is an essential building material needed to create testosterone.
You need avocados to make guacamole. And you need vitamin D to make testosterone.
Should you happen to be vitamin D deficient, you are also likely to be testosterone deficient.
And what happens when you are testosterone deficient..?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and as such governs and supports anything sexual that happens in your body.
With lots of testosterone, you are likely to function very well sexually.
With little testosterone, you are likely to have a poor libido and struggle with erectile dysfunction.
If you want to learn how to increase testosterone naturally, you can read this guide.
By the way..
This connection between UVB and testosterone is not news.
It turns out that the link between UVB radiation and testosterone has been known for decades.
In 1939, a scientist did an interesting experiment:
Firstly, he measured the levels of circulating testosterone in a group of men. Then he exposed their various body parts to UVB radiation. And then he re-measured their circulating testosterone levels.
After five days of chest exposure sufficient to cause reddening, circulating testosterone increased by 120% in the participants.
And then he also exposed their genitals to UVB radiation.
After the genital area had also been exposed, testosterone levels increased by 200% from baseline levels.
And after eight days without additional UVB exposure, the testosterone returned to initial levels.
Many men would do almost anything in order to double their testosterone levels in 5 days!
But there is (in most cases) no need for costly testosterone therapy, needles, injections or pills.
You can simply sunbathe naked. And it’s totally free!
But there is even better news!
Research studies have investigated the relationship between vitamin D levels and testosterone levels in men, and found that men with high levels of vitamin D normally also have more testosterone.
Other research has reported a seasonal pattern, with both vitamin D and testosterone levels bottoming at the end of the winter, and peaking at the end of the summer.
Research has also looked at the effect of taking a vitamin D supplement on testosterone levels. The study found that this can increase testosterone by 20-25%, in testosterone deficient men.
But vitamin D also helps you produce another element that is essential in order for you to get and maintain strong erections:
Sunshine Makes You Produce More Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is an element that you need in order for your penis to go from flaccid to erect.
This nitric oxide opens up the blood vessels in your penis, so that blood can flow into your penis and make it hard.
If you don’t produce enough nitric oxide, you will find it more or less impossible to get erections.
So how does sunshine enter the picture?
Your nitric oxide is produced by an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. This enzyme sits in your endothelium, which is a layer of cells on the inner walls of your blood vessels.
Studies has shown that nitric oxide synthase needs vitamin D in order to manufacture nitric oxide.
In other words, vitamin D is one of the ingredients that are necessary to create this gas.
Therefore, if you are vitamin D deficient, not only is your testosterone likely to suffer, but your nitric oxide production as well.
But there is more:
Sunshine helps you produce yet another element that is key to your sexual functions:
Sunshine Makes You Produce More Dopamine
Which is true..
But dopamine is much more than this. For instance, you need a healthy dopamine production in order to have a sex drive.
And you also need the same in order to get an erection. Therefore, dopamine is essential in order to function well sexually.
Research studies have demonstrated that vitamin D3 enhances dopamine production. Meaning, in the presence of vitamin D3, your body produce more dopamine.
Neuroscientific studies have also found that vitamind D3 can upregulate a gene that improves dopamine synthesis.
Therefore, with healthy amounts of vitamin D3 (calcitriol), you are probably more likely to also have a healthy production of dopamine.
Also studies on rats have demonstrated that vitamin D protects your dopamine reward system.
And the flipside..
With little vitamin D3 (or D2), you are more likely to have an inferior production of dopamine.
So not only does the sun help you produce testosterone and nitric oxide, it also help you produce dopamine.
In other words, the sun is instrumental in helping you manufacture three of the most important ingredients you need in order to function well sexually.
Let’s move on.
Let me tell you about my experience with vitamin D deficiency, and also about my sunshine epiphany.
My Experience With Sunshine, Erectile Dysfunction And Libido
I am fairly convinced that I have been vitamin D deficient for many, many years. And particularly after I started working.
Because when I started working, I spent practically all my time inside buildings. I worked from early morning until very late. Therefore when the sun shone, I was behind glass and inside 4 walls.
That I didn’t see much of the sun during the hours of the day when UVB radiation was showering town. UVB is strongest when the sun is at its highest point during the day.
All I got was a few minutes of UBV on my face, those sunny days I went outside to buy my lunch.
Another reason why I am convinced I must have been vitamin D deficient, is that I always wore sunscreen if I went outside on a sunny day (well not when going to buy lunch).
So if I went outside on a weekend or holiday, I always covered up with sunscreen. Full body.
Because I had been told that I could get skin cancer if I was not careful with the sun. And that putting on sunscreen was the way to avoid getting skin cancer.
So this sunscreen significantly reduced the amount of UVB radiation I absorbed.
And the third reason I am convinced I was deficient in vitamin D, is because I didn’t take any vitamin D supplements.
It was like my body and mind woke up! I got more energy and I felt more alive. Not only that, something happened to my libido as well.
Let me tell you about my sunshine epiphany.
My Sunshine Epiphany
And sometimes when I had these sexual thoughts, I got erections!
So from time to time, I hiked the mountains with an erection in my pants!
This was highly, highly unusual for me. At this point in my life, I barely ever got erections. It just didn’t happen.
As the trip came towards the end, this sexual ‘rebirth’ became more and more persistent. My libido became so strong, it made it difficult to fully enjoy the beautiful mountains.
My attention to women changed! And..
I had an almost constant tingling sensation in my genitals. And when got an erection, it normally lasted for an unusually long time.
I felt super happy and upbeat about being horny, but didn’t think much of it at the time. I assumed it was just random as my libido would go up and down anyways.
But I also need to mention this:
During this week, I also relaxed totally, ate and drank well, got fresh air, got exercise, slept well, and abstained from any sexual activity. All of which will normally contribute to put a mind and body in balance, which also helps improve sexual health.
That said, I am nonetheless convinced the sunshine played a very major role.
The very same thing happened again on another sunny hiking vacation.
Now I started connecting the dots.
Was there something about the sun that got me sexed up?
This time, I also went on a week-long activity-filled vacation in a sunny and temperate part of the world.
And I also struggled with severe ED, and a more or less non-existent libido, during this time.
After about three full days of being active in the sunshine, I was again ‘attacked’ by sexual thoughts and desires.
Out of seemingly nowhere, I would think about sex, have sexual fantasies, and be much more attentive to the females in my surroundings.
And as these fantasies played out in my mind, I all of a sudden started getting erections. Again highly unusual.
This got stronger and stronger as the days passed. And in the end, my libido had become unrecognizably strong.
What was going on? This was so not normal! This just never happened when I was living my city life!
By now I realized that there had to be something about these vacations.
There was something about these vacations that made my sexual functions jump back to life.
Something about these vacations got my sexual functions fired up again!
But what was it?
One common factor on these vacations was sunshine.
I was wondering if the sun could possibly have something to do with it? Was there a link between the sun and my happy libido? And between the sun and all of a sudden getting erections again?
It turns out that there is indeed a link. Actually, there are more than one. And as we already know, these links are testosterone, the health promoting effects from sunshine, nitric oxide and dopamine.
Given what I have learned about sunshine, what is my approach to sunshine today?