Well beta-endorphins as mentioned earlier in this series of blog posts acts as the bodies pain killer which occurs in the following way. They attach to the mu receptors which are in the central nervous system (CNS).

The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Beta-endorphins by attaching to the mu receptors prevent the release of gamma-Aminobutyricacid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it prevents the release of other neurotransmitters.

In this case GABA prevents the release of dopamine. So, beta-endorphins act to decrease GABA release causing release of and increasing dopamine levels in the CNS. Dopamine again is our happy, pleasure and joy neurotransmitter and something we always want more of.

Most of us find safe natural ways to increase its level in our CNS however it is the drug addict’s neurotransmitter of choice and the one they are constantly trying to increase. 1 So how does this all tie together.

Well, in studying rats they found that they could by shaving their hair and exposing them to ultraviolet light cause them to be addicted to sun light. 2 These authors imply this may have been an evolutionary adaptation to assure adequate vitamin D3 production.

Have scientist learned to use this information to hijack mammalian bodies chemical communication system? Systems that depend on substances like pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and specifically beta-endorphins. To use against, for example, rats and mice to use vitamin D3 as a poison?  

Vitamin D3 appears to increase the production of beta-endorphins by ingesting. So, do rats and mice eat as much of the vitamin D3 as they can. As I have refenced before coming by vitamin D3 naturally in foods is difficult or producing naturally is expensive. A thought occurred to me.

Vitamin D3 has a cost to produce when there is adequate UV-B in the sunlight. However, some animals are nocturnal like rats and perhaps have developed a “taste” or can detect by smell vitamin D3. Thus, they can only acquire it through their diet, so their body has come to crave it.

The reward in ingesting it is to get the endorphin release. And dopamine reward. Again, few natural “foods” contain much vitamin D3 other than fish and even fewer contain high levels other then perhaps salmon roe. I looked to see if vitamin D3 is somehow attractive to mice and rats but found nothing.

They certainly do not avoid eating poison bates loaded with it. So perhaps my above theory is no more than a theory? How does this relate to humans? Well in humans we can communicate so we can better understand others motivation. Or at least hopefully more than we can a rodent.

Well this system, sun exposure, vitamin D3 production and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) production and its by products like beta-endorphin are no longer connect for most of us. Due to our distancing ourselves from the environment.

Less or none of the following-physical activity (known to generate beta-endorphins), out of doors (exposure to natural bacteria both helpful to produce for example serotonin for example) and sun exposure (again direct beta-endorphin production and vitamin D3 that also stimulates beta-endorphin release).

I looked for any research on how reduced POMC affects us but there isn’t much research. What I was curious to know is if prolonged periods of reduced or absent natural POMC and thus for example reduced beta-endorphin production, resulted in any adverse behaviors.

What research there is on POMC and products shows it does affect, as I wrote before, our appetite, energy levels and body composition. POMC deficiency causes increased obesity, pale skin which is easily sun burned and adrenal insufficiency. One effect is severe over eating. 3

Also elevated bilirubin. Interestingly elevated bilirubin reduces all three of the following-obesity, cholesterol production (vitamin D3 is formed from cholesterol so lowering it would be harmful) and insulin resistance. 4 So, is this the bodies protective mechanism?

  1. Berke JD, Hyman SE. (March 2000). Addiction, dopamine and the molecular mechanisms of memory. Neuron. 25:515-532.

  2. Fell GL, Robinson KC, Mao J, et al. (June 14, 2014). Skin B-endorphin mediates addiction to ultraviolet light. Cell. 157(7): 1527-1534.

  3. Krude H, Gruters A. (February 1, 2000). Implacations of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mutations in humans: the POMC deficiency syndrome. Cell. 11(1): 15-22.

  4. Liu J, Dong H, Wang H, et al. (May 28, 2015). Bilirubin increases insulin sensitivity by regulating cholesterol metabolism, adipokines and ppary levels. Sci. Rep. 5, 9886.


*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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