Here Comes the Sun...To Mess Up Your Meds?

The surprising reason why summer can make you sick.

by Stacey Colino
medication sun prescription Rx vitamin D picture
Photograph: gizos

The amount of time you spend exposed to the sun can affect the rate at which your body breaks down a drug, according to preliminary research from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. This means that the concentration of drugs inside you may vary from season to season, with lower levels occurring in the sunny period from July to September and higher ones during the bleaker time between January and March.

Sunlight exposure increases your levels of vitamin D, which in turn boosts your body’s store of CYP34A enzymes, which are responsible for the liver detoxification system. “Anything like vitamin D that revs up detoxification might lead to a speedier breakdown and faster elimination of drugs,” notes Ronald Hoffman, MD, medical director of the Hoffman Center in New York City. This would mean that a dosage that works in the winter might well be inadequate during the summer. If these early findings are confirmed by future research, “there may be a need for seasonal adjustment of meds, or to make sure that people have adequate levels of vitamin D year-round so drug levels can be maintained consistently throughout the months,” Hoffman says.

Next: Vitamin D—Overhyped or Underused?

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First Published July 1, 2011

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