Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health

Carole A. Baggerly BA, Raphael E. Cuomo MPH, Christine B. French MS, Cedric F. Garland DrPH, FACE, Edward D. Gorham PhD, William B. Grant PhD, Robert P. Heaney MD, Michael F. Holick MD, PhD, Bruce W. Hollis PhD, Sharon L. McDonnell MPH, Mary Pittaway MA, RD, Paul Seaton MS, Carol L. Wagner MD and Alexander Wunsch MD.

The healing power of the sun and its use in medical treatment (heliotherapy) have roots extending back into antiquity. In the modern era, particularly the first half of the 20th century, heliotherapy was widely used in both Europe and North America, particularly for the treatment of cutaneous tuberculosis, for which Niels Finsen garnered the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1903. Much of this work was done prior to the discovery of vitamin D and of its synthesis in the skin by UV radiation, which would have been a principal factor in the recovery from disease reported a century ago. However, with the discovery of antibiotics, the era of drug treatment of tuberculosis began in the 1950s, and heliotherapy fell into disuse and is today virtually forgotten. A major advantage of antibiotics was the ability to avoid prolonged hospitalization with its associated expense and disruption of individual lives. But that was a matter of efficiency, not efficacy.

Format: PDF

Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches

Pages: 8

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