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Sunlight exposure correlates to a reduced risk of ADHD

Researchers have found that sunlight exposure correlates to a decreased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers assessed the relationship between the prevalence of ADHD and the intensity of sunlight in various nations and in US states.[1]After adjusting for birth weights, infant mortality and other relevant factors, they found that the greater the sunlight exposure, the less was the prevalance of ADHD. It is obvious that sunlight exposure was able to mitigate ADHD.

It is interesting that the authors suggested that that the mechanism by which sunlight accomplishes this improvement could be a positive change in the circadian rhythm, a factor that had previously been associated with ADHD. It was also interesting that the researchers did not mention vitamin D production by sunlight, since several studies have shown an association between low vitamin D and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, brain development in baby rats, autism, anxiety and depression. Rats born to vitamin D deficient mothers also have permanently damaged brains into adulthood,[2]and exhibit hyperactivity.[3]In addition, recent research shows that adult vitamin D deficiency leads to behavioral and brain alterations in mice.[4]

Considering the aforementioned effects of vitamin D deficiency on the brain, it is not surprising that sunlight, which stimulates the skin to produce vitamin D, correlates to a reduced risk of ADHD. It is a mystery that the authors did not consider vitamin d production as the mechanism that leads to the improvement.

Let’s soak up some sunlight, get rid of hyperactivity and start focusing on those things that are important—a good idea for both children and adults!

[1] Martijn Arns, Kristiaan B. van der Heijden, L. Eugene Arnold, and J. Leon Kenemans. Geographic Variation in the Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: The Sunny Perspective. Biol Psychiatry 2013;15;74:585-90.
[2]McGrath, J. et al. Vitamin D3-implications for brain development. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2004;89-90:557-60.
[3]Burne TH, Becker A, Brown J, Eyles DW, Mackay-Sim A, McGrath JJ. Transient prenatal Vitamin D deficiency is associated with hyperlocomotion in adult rats. Behav Brain Res 2004;;154:549-55
[4]Groves NJ, Kesby JP, Eyles DW, McGrath JJ, Mackay-Sim A, Burne TH. Adult vitamin D deficiency leads to behavioral and brain neurochemical alterations in C57BL/6J and BALB/c mice. Behav Brain Res 2013;15;241:120-31.

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