The Vital Importance of Sunlight

by Cat,  March 2008; updated April 2019

While sunlight is not part of a diet that you ingest, it is a vitally important part of your body’s overall diet, and how much sunlight you get affects every aspect of your health, including digestion.  For this reason, I include it as a Diet & Health article.

The work of Dr. Ott

In 2008, I ran across an article on the Price-Pottenger website:  Seeing the Light, by Sally Euclaire Osborne M.S. (14). I’ve saved it as printable pdf: Seeing the Light by Sally Euclaire.pdf, since it is no longer available on the original site.  It is primarily about the work of Dr. John Nash Ott.  Here are a few excepts (color emphasis added by Cat):

“In Dr. Ott’s opinion, depression, fatigue, eyestrain, headaches, stress and feeling “out of sorts” can all be attributed to poor lighting. What’s more, he has accumulated considerable data connecting the lack of sunlight and use of artificial lights with major diseases of civilization such as arthritis and cancer.

Adding to the confusion around UV is the tendency of the press to put all types of UV radiation in the same negative light. In fact there are three types: UV-A, which is responsible for tanning; UV-B, crucial to the body’s synthesis of Vitamin D; and UV-C, a potent germicide. If any of the three forms pose a threat to life on earth today, it is UV-C because today’s thinner ozone layer filters out fewer UV-C rays than it did during the millions of years in which humans evolved.”

Sunlight is important for health. Not only does its illumination allow us to see, or plants to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar for energy, but it also activates conversion of cholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D.  This vitamin’s importance is just coming into its own.

“A 1973 study performed on first grade classes in Sarasota, Florida, conducted by Dr. Ott’s Environmental Health and Light Research Institute, proved that hyperactive children calm down and academic levels go up when full spectrum lights are installed.(1,2,3) 

At the same time, the Sarasota Dental Society observed that the children schooled under full-spectrum lights developed one-third the number of cavities compared to the children schooled under the standard fluorescent lights.(4) The most likely reason is the increased calcium absorption that occurs when Vitamin D is manufactured by the skin in the presence of sunlight. Interestingly, it is the ultraviolet component – that most health “experts” urge us to avoid at all costs – that encourages the skin’s production of this important vitamin.(5)

Another study of school children was conducted in 1981 by Catherine Sam and Harry Wohlfarth at the Elves Memorial Child Development Centre, a school for handicapped children in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There researchers noted marked behavioral improvement among children under full-spectrum lighting as well as decreased stress levels, which they calculated by drops in systolic blood pressures averaging 20 points per child. When the full-spectrum lighting was changed back to the original cool-white fluorescent tubes, the children’s stress levels shot back up and they became disorderly again.(6)

In Germany, Fritz Hollwich, Professor Emeritus, Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Munster, found high levels of stress hormones – specifically adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol – in individuals sitting under cool white fluorescent tubes. He found normal levels, however, in people working under full-spectrum tubes. Based on the research of Dr. Hollwich and others, the cool-white fluorescent bulb is legally banned in German hospitals and medical facilities.(7)

In addition, hundreds of studies – some dating back to the turn of the century – support the health benefits of UV light, including lowered blood pressure, improved electrocardiogram readings, reduced cholesterol, weight loss, the healing of psoriasis and increases in the levels of male and female sex hormones.(13) And that’s not even counting reports from folks who just plain say that they feel happier and healthier outdoors on the beach, on the hiking trails and on the ski slopes.

Perhaps the most promising area of light research today is in medicine. “Light is our most powerful ally,” says Dr. Liberman, who speaks excitedly about new frontiers in light and color therapy. Many mainstream scientists are also experimenting with the use of light to destroy viruses causing AIDS, herpes and other infectious diseases, as well as to decontaminate blood for transfusion. Although Dr. Liberman freely admits that it, “sounds a bit like Dr. McCoy on Star Trek,” he foresees, “a future in which photodynamic therapy, alone or in combination with other conventional techniques, will be able to successfully treat most, if not all, cancers and other life-threatening diseases.”


The first 13 are from the original article; those beginning with #14 are Cat’s references:

  1. John Nash, “School Lighting and Hyperactivity,” Journal for Biosocial Research, Summer 1980, p. 6-7.
  2. Ott, John Nash, “Influence of Fluorescent Lights on Hyperactivity and Learning Disabilities, Journal of Learning Disabilities, August-September 1976, p. 417-422.
  3. Ott, John Nash, et al., “Light Radiation and Academic Achievement: Second Year Data,” Academic Therapy, Summer 1976, pp. 397-407.
  4. See also Sharon, I, et al, “The Effects of Lights of Different Spectra on Caries Incidence in the Golden Hamster,” Archives of Oral Biology, 1971, Vol. 16, no. 12, pp. 1427-1431
  5. Holick, M.F., et al, “Photosynthesis of Previtamin D-3 in Human Skin and the Physiologic Consequences,” Science, October 10, 1980, pp. 203-205.
  6. Wohlfarth, Harry and Sam, Catherine, “The Effect of Color Psychodynamic Environmental Modification upon Psychophysiological and Behavioral Reactions of Severely Handicapped children,” The International Journal of Biosocial Research, 1982, Vol. 3, no 1 pp. 10-38.
  7. Hollwich, Fritz and Dieckhues, B., “The Effect of Natural and Artificial Light Via the Eye on the Hormonal and Metabolic Balance of Animal and Man,” Opthalmologica, 1980, vol. 180., no 4, pp. 188-197.
  8. Ham, W.T., et al., “Action Spectrum for Retinal Injury from Near-Ultraviolet Radiation in the Aphakic Monkey,” American Journal of Ophthalmology, March 1982.
  9. Ott, John Nash, “Color and Light: Their Effects on Plants, Animals and People,” Journal of Biosocial Research 7, part 1, 1985.
  10. Beral, V., et al., “Malignant Melanoma and Exposure to Fluorescent Light at Work,” Lancet, August 7, 1982, pp. 290-292.
  11. Smith-Sonneborn, Joan, “DNA Repair and Longevity Assurance in Paramecium Tetraurelia,” Science, March 16, 1979, pp. 1115-1117.
  12. Smith-Sonneborn, Joan, “Aging in Protozoa,” Review of Biological Research in Aging 1, 1983, pp. 29-35.
  13. Liberman, Jacob, Light Medicine of the Future (Bear, 1991), pp.141-144.
  14. Seeing the Light by Sally Euclaire Osborne: (link no longer valid; I’m searching for its replacement; here are some options:
    1. indicates it is a copy of the original article; I’ve saved this as a pdf in CATSFORK > PHOTOS-FILES > MISC / Seeing the Light by Sally Euclair.pdf
    3. Mother Earth News:

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