We Are Sunshine

New study suggests lizards know basking in the sun regulates their vitamin D levels

Friday, April 24th, 2009

It turns out Vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick’s longstanding work showing that domesticated komodo dragons in North America are light deprived and, thus, suffer from vitamin D deficiency without being exposed to UV light has taken another twist.

2009-04-23-more-sun-less-cranky-tanningnews-copy.jpgA new study has shown that lizards in their natural tropical habitats appear to know how much sunlight they need to make vitamin D.

“A lounging lizard might not bask just for warmth — it may be getting a much-needed hit of vitamin D,” Science News reported this week. “A new study reports that panther chameleons set their sunbathing schedule depending on how much vitamin D they need. The research, published online and in the May/June Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, shows how adept animals are at responding to bodily needs and has implications for how conservation groups, zoos and pet owners care for their reptilian critters, scientists say.”

Doctors concluded that the lizards could gauge their vitamin D status and adjust their sun-basking habits accordingly.

“This study shows that the animal kingdom has come to grips that the best source of vitamin D is sunlight, and that humans who think they should be getting vitamin D from supplements may have to catch up with the lizards,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said.

To read Science News coverage of the story click here.