Studies show that Vitamin D inadequacy has been reported in approximately 57% of general medicine inpatients and is at epidemic levels in worldwide populations. When converted to its biologically active form, Vitamin D serves multiple functions: activating immune defenses, regulating calcium and potassium, and promoting healthy bone growth to name a few. Vitamin D deficiency (Hypovitaminosis D) is the condition of having too little vitamin D in the body. It causes rickets, osteomalacia, exacerbates osteoporosis, and prevents children from developing peak bone mass.
Hypovitaminosis D results mainly from a lack of dietary Vitamin D sources and an insufficient exposure to sunlight, specifically exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Our invention, Lightstream, is designed to be a remarkably cheap, efficient, and convenient solution to this worldwide health problem. Lightstream is a small strip of non-corrosive material that holds an optimized array of light emitting diodes (LEDs), designed to be placed on a wall inside of a shower. The LEDs are designed to emit a spectrum of UVB light ranging in wavelength from 290-303 nm. This range of wavelength is optimized for maximal Vitamin D production in the skin3. The LEDs are capped by a lens that will direct the ultraviolet light through a small cone restricted to a polar angle of less than 15o and project it onto the bare skin of a person utilizing their shower on a daily basis. A local company specializes in manufacturing deep ultraviolet LEDs that emit the specified spectral range of UVB light. At this chosen wavelength, the irradiated light simulates the natural UVB rays affecting vitamin D precursor levels in human skin. Our device would also maintain a much higher rate of exposure due to the lack of obstructions such as clothing as well as an angle of incidence perpendicular to the ventral and dorsal planes of the human body.
Our prototype LED strips will be powered by an AC adapter, though the final design will incorporate a rechargeable battery. This eliminates all wires near the running water of the household shower. A single button will be used to start a 5 minute timer to prevent overexposure to the UVB rays as well as to systematize our test results.
The recent development and improvement in LED technology has resulted in mass produced LEDs that are relatively cheap, very energy efficient, and longer lasting than nearly every other type of light-emitting device on the market. Though the materials for a single prototype would cost approximately $800, the cost of high volume orders of LEDs would drop to 5% of the cost of low volume orders. Simple assembly, electronics, and cheap mounts would allow a large-scale production of each unit to drop in cost to an estimated fifty dollars. And the installation of one unit into a typical household has the ability to drastically improve 57% of the world’s health and lifestyle.