Here Is Why You Need A Little Bit Of Sunlight To Feel Healthy And Happy
Sunlight is an equally beautiful and useful gift we’ve been given. When partaken of at the right times and in the right doses, it can become a potent healing and preventative agent for various illnesses and disorders that may be plaguing you.
Let’s take a look at how a bit of the sun’s sunshine can add sunshine to your physical and emotional health and well-being.
Sunshine Has Risks And Rewards
Most people have heard the warnings about the risks of unfiltered exposure to the sun’s UV rays and the dangers of getting frequent sunburns. It’s a warning touted so frequently and ardently that it’s caused many to abandon sun exposure all together or slather high SPF sunscreen all over themselves every single day. While the risks are real, such extremes aren’t necessary. The extreme of never getting any sun can be detrimental to your health.
You need the reward of sunshine in moderation. Your body relies upon sun’s UV to trigger the synthesis of an invaluable fat-soluble vitamin - vitamin D. While vitamin D has its unique role in the body for areas like inflammation, cell growth, immune function, neuromuscular function, gene encoding, and so forth, vitamin D also plays a vital role in how calcium and phosphate minerals are absorbed and utilized. This is why most calcium supplements are fortified with vitamin D.
There are a few foods, such as fatty fish, egg yolk, and beef liver, that you naturally get vitamin D from, but it’s limited amounts. Most food sources of vitamin D are fortified, meaning it’s been added to it, such as in the case of some cereals, yogurts, and milk. Natural and fortified foods aren’t enough, however. The average person only gets about 10% of vitamin D through food sources. Without oral supplements, the remaining 90% is left up to sun exposure.
Now that you know that the sun has a risk and reward beyond your tan line, are you ready to learn some of the ways boosting your vitamin D levels with the sun can help you be a healthier and happier you? Here are 10 Rewards From Getting Your Daily Dose Of Sunshine.
1. Light Up Your Mood
Ever wonder why a consistently happy mood is called a “sunny” disposition, why that really happy person is called a “ball of sunshine,” or why so many pillows are monogrammed with “sunshine and happiness?”
Research by the United Arab Emirates helps explain why sun exposure can change your mood for the better. The researchers identified a small sample of people with both low levels of vitamin D and depressive-like symptoms. They split the group, advising one part to seek professional medical help and the other part to increase their sun exposure. Those who increased their sun exposure boosted their vitamin D and showed fewer signs of depression at the end of the study in comparison to the other group.
2. Kick SAD To The Curb
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs in fall and winter as daylight hours shorten and dreary weather increases. While the exact cause remains elusive to science, research has found that suffers have one commonality. They’re all sensitive to the seasonal lack of sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency is generally a common causative factor in depression symptoms. A lack of sunlight can also lower serotonin production, a hormone responsible for mood, sleep, and appetite.
Whether it’s seasonal depression or depression in general, the sun’s ability to boost vitamin D and serotonin levels make getting enough sunshine each day an important lifestyle change in treating depression symptoms.
3. Get Your Blood Cholesterol In Check
Research has shown that blood cholesterol also varies seasonally. It spikes in the wintertime, and it’s lowest during summer months. Your body has to produce enough vitamin D to avoid metabolizing the next best thing on its list - cholesterol. When cholesterol gets metabolized, it leads to high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
A study of 2.8 million adults was recently analyzed by researchers at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, and it found the LDL cholesterol levels rose by almost two percent in women and 3.5 percent in men during winter months. Researchers contributed less sun exposure, and thereby decreased vitamin D, during the winter months as a key factor in the LDL elevations.
4. Lower Your Risk Of Heart Disease
From family history to lifestyle choices, most of the population is at risk for heart disease. It’s a serious threat worldwide, and coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. One way to reduce the risk of heart disease is to ensure you’re not deficient in vitamin D.
According to a Harvard study, those with adequate vitamin D levels cut their risk of heart attack significantly compared to those with low vitamin D levels. The Vitamin D Council attributes vitamin D’s role in heart disease to its ability to reduce the risks associated with inflammation, frequent respiratory infections, hardening and thickening of arteries, and metabolic diseases.
5. Keep Your Bones Strong
Sunlight to prevent vitamin D deficiency is crucial to your bone health. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children, worsens and causes osteoporosis in older adults, and can ultimately increase your risk of bone fracture. As mentioned above, vitamin D is also essential to properly absorb calcium for healthy bones and cartilage.
6. Lower Your Risk Of Cancer
Vitamin D can lower your risk of cancer. While direct, prolonged sun exposure is scientifically linked to certain types of skin cancers, particularly amongst certain skin complications, complete avoidance of the sun and excess sunscreen use can both increase the risk of other types of cancers.
According to research published by Mercola, the vitamin D you get from the sun can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancers, including skin, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, and prostate. As with anything in life, sun exposure is about balance and moderation.
7. Give Your Body A Fighting Chance Against Autoimmune Diseases
With autoimmune illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and MS, your body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells as unwanted invaders. It attacks and destroys the viable cells versus protect them. Research has shown that vitamin D strengthens and stabilizes the immune system to do its job with fewer errors, which thereby reduces your risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
8. Step Out In The Sun For Natural Pain Relief
Today, research is showing that vitamin D deficiency may be causing chronic pain, and maintaining adequate vitamin D levels could be the key to managing it.
While research has yet to concretely explain the correlation between sun exposure and an analgesic effect on the body, innumerable studies have confirmed it happens. One study showed reduced menstrual pain in women taking a single oral dose of vitamin D, and another study showed lower back pain improvement almost immediately.
9. Just Say No To Obesity
If you’ve ever spent a long day outside in the heat, then you might’ve noticed you don’t have much of an appetite afterward. Vitamin D doesn’t have a role here. Instead, it’s all about the nitric oxide that UV sun exposure induces within the body.
10. Catch Up On Your Sleep
The sun also has the power to make you sleepy, as most sunbathers have likely experienced. Beyond just getting sleepy, sun exposure can also help you regulate your sleep. From insomnia to shift-work, your sleep can get deregulated a number of different ways. Research has shown routinely sleeping during daylight hours and not getting enough quality sleep both leave you more prone to illness. On the other hand, sunlight exposure has been shown to help people get more quality and routine sleep.
How many of these mental and physical benefits did you know about sun exposure? Do you plan to get more sunshine in your life? Tell us about it in the comment section, and feel free to pass this article along to anyone you know who’s afraid of getting in the sun.
Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation by your doctor. Your health is important to us!