The moment you think of sunshine, the thoughts that pop up most commonly are beaches, tans, added with a little bit of sunburn. And then, on the other, darker side, there’s skin cancer. Owing to this latter bit, most are scared of too much sun exposure and depend on sunscreens more than required. This can be working against you.
When you’re exposed to the sun for adequate duration, your body produces vitamin D. Now, you do get the vitamin through foods, but very minimally. More than 90% of vitamin D comes from sun exposure alone. And this vitamin is a major source of the benefits of sun exposure. If you’re not convinced yet, let’s get into exactly how sun exposure is going to help you.
1. Improves Your Mood
When you say somebody has a sunny disposition, you mean to say they’re cheerful and happy. But why is “sunny” related to happiness? Yes, summer definitely makes gets you going in a good mood, but there’s more to it! Studies show that exposure to sun makes you significantly happier. This is because of the rich level of vitamin D you get from the sun.
2. Treats Depression And SAD
Vitamin D deficiency is a common causative factor and characteristic is people going through depression. When you stay out in the sun a little more often, your vitamin D levels increase and make you healthier, happier. Adding to this, summer and sunshine have been seen to increase the levels of serotonin production in the body, which reduces your risk of depression.1
Get some sunshine in the morning to come out of mood disorders like depression and SAD.2
Naturally, sunlight can also get you out of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which, however, mostly hits you during winter when sun exposure is something you crave but don’t get much of. But in case you’re affected and in a place with a “sunny disposition,” you know what do!
3. Regulates Blood Cholesterol
When you’re exposed to adequate sunlight, your body produces enough vitamin D to be metabolized. But if you aren’t, your body metabolizes cholesterol instead, leading to an increase in blood cholesterol. This is why most people experience high blood cholesterol levels during winter.3
4. Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. While other healthy habits are a must, like dieting and exercising, a little bit of sunshine every single day will keep your heart pumping strong.4
5. Strengthens The Bones
Sunlight is important for bone health as it prevents a possibility of vitamin D deficiency. A root cause of rickets in children, the deficiency will also worsen or induce osteoporosis in adults and other painful bone issues.5 Additionally, sun exposure has also been seen to reduce the risk of bone fracture.6
6. Prevents Cancer
When it comes to cancer and sunlight, what you need is the right balance. Depending on the complexion and the nature of your body, get the right amount of sun exposure every day. While extreme exposure can cause skin cancer, completely avoiding the sun or using excess sunscreen can lead to other cancers.7
7. Reduces The Risk Of Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases are those sicknesses wherein your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the body instead of protecting them. Such illnesses include celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and more. With a good amount of sun exposure, increased vitamin D levels will help you reduce the risk of these diseases and avoid them.8
8. Eases Pain
Now, it’s not really clear exactly how sun exposure can ease the pain, but it does. According to one study, low vitamin D levels have been observed in participants with chronic lower back pain.9 Just one dose of vitamin D has been seen to reduce menstrual pain in women. If this is the case with all painful conditions, sun exposure will do nothing but ease your pain. So, don’t stay cooped up in your bed, struggling with the pain. Be strong, step out into the sun, and let the rays heal you with their touch!
9. Prevents Obesity
This is one of the positives of sunlight where vitamin D has not much to do. Sun (UV) exposure has actually been studied to reduce the progress of obesity, thanks to UV-induced nitric oxide. These results are something that cannot be obtained with vitamin D supplementation but require actual UV exposure.10 11 Heat also tends to reduce your appetite, so that’s an added bonus!
10. Improves Sleep Quality
This is of utmost importance specifically for those who work in shifts. According to studies, those who need to sleep daytime tend to succumb to sicknesses more often. When exposed to more sunlight, participants were seen to catch up more hours of quality sleep when exposed to more sunlight during the day.12
But this isn’t the end of the list! Sun exposure, of the right amount, also has an influence on cardiovascular disease, fertility, pregnancy, dementia, and mortality! This doesn’t mean you spend all your day outside without any protection. Sunlight for both mental and physical health is all about the right quantity and the timing. No matter what your lifestyle is, make it a point to get some sun in the morning and start off your every single day the right way.
|↑1||Lambert, G. W., C. Reid, DhfM Kaye, G. L. Jennings, and M. D. Esler. “Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain.” The Lancet 360, no. 9348 (2002): 1840-1842.|
|↑2||Benedetti, Francesco, Cristina Colombo, Barbara Barbini, Euridice Campori, and Enrico Smeraldi. “Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression.” Journal of affective disorders 62, no. 3 (2001): 221-223.|
|↑3||Grimes, D. S., E. Hindle, and T. Dyer. “Sunlight, cholesterol and coronary heart disease.” QJM: An International Journal of Medicine 89, no. 8 (1996): 579-590.|
|↑4||Holick, Michael F. “Vitamin D: important for prevention of osteoporosis, cardiovascular heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and some cancers.” SOUTHERN MEDICAL JOURNAL-BIRMINGHAM ALABAMA- 98, no. 10 (2005): 1024.|
|↑5, ↑7||Holick, Michael F. “Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80, no. 6 (2004): 1678S-1688S.|
|↑6||Cantorna, Margherita T., and Brett D. Mahon. “Mounting evidence for vitamin D as an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence.” Experimental biology and medicine 229, no. 11 (2004): 1136-1142.|
|↑8||Ponsonby, Anne-Louise, Anthony McMichael, and Ingrid Van Der Mei. “Ultraviolet radiation and autoimmune disease: insights from epidemiological research.” Toxicology 181 (2002): 71-78.|
|↑9||Al Faraj, Saud, and Khalaf Al Mutairi. “Vitamin D deficiency and chronic low back pain in Saudi Arabia.” Spine 28, no. 2 (2003): 177-179.|
|↑10||Fleury, Naomi, Sian Geldenhuys, and Shelley Gorman. “Sun exposure and its effects on human health: Mechanisms through which sun exposure could reduce the risk of developing obesity and cardiometabolic dysfunction.” International journal of environmental research and public health 13, no. 10 (2016): 999.|
|↑11||Geldenhuys, Sian, Prue H. Hart, Raelene Endersby, Peter Jacoby, Martin Feelisch, Richard B. Weller, Vance Matthews, and Shelley Gorman. “Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet.” Diabetes 63, no. 11 (2014): 3759-3769.|
|↑12||Boubekri, Mohamed, Ivy N. Cheung, Kathryn J. Reid, Chia-Hui Wang, and Phyllis C. Zee. “Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine 10, no. 6 (2014): 603.|