These days, it’s not uncommon for medical experts, dermatologists, beauticians, and other professionals to warn against exposure to sunlight, as its ultraviolet rays (UVR) have harmful effects on your skin. Consequently, many people actively avoid the sun and all outdoor activities. While it’s true that overexposure to UV rays may be harmful, the sun is a natural resource and daily exposure to sunlight for specific periods is beneficial to your health generally.
So, let’s look at a few major health benefits of sunlight.
• Sunlight Boosts Vitamin D Unlike most vitamins that are obtained from food, vitamin D can be synthesized from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for many functions such as strengthening bones and teeth, supporting the immune system, losing excess fat, protecting the brain against dementia, and decreasing asthma symptoms in both adults and children.
• Sunlight May Reduce Risk of Some Diseases Some studies have linked vitamin D to protection against colon, kidney, and breast cancer. Combining sunlight therapy with other cancer treatments also tends to improve the patient’s prognosis. Sunlight also has a beneficial effect on skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, and fungal infections of the skin, as well as musculoskeletal problems like multiple sclerosis and rickets.
• Sunlight Decreases the Effect of Artificial Light More time in daylight means less time in artificial lighting, such as from fluorescent bulbs. Extended exposure to artificial lights elicits elevated stress response in some people, and is known to cause eye strain and migraines.
• Sunlight Has Psychological Benefits Exposure to sunshine (even indirectly like through a window) can alleviate stress levels. Sunlight causes the brain to produce more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood. Another psychological benefit of sunlight is the controlled secretion of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep); exposure to sunlight during the day increases the natural production of melatonin at night. It also significantly lowers blood pressure in individuals with hypertension and can cure depression.
• Sunlight Boosts Your Immune System Ultraviolet radiation kills bacteria and interferes with their reproductive cycle by damaging DNA. Soldiers in World War 1 even used it to disinfect wounds. Sunlight penetrates deep into the skin to cleanse the blood and blood vessels. White blood cells (lymphocytes) increase with sun exposure and these play a major role in defending the body against infections. Similar to the effects of exercise, sunlight increases oxygen content in the blood and also enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to tissues. The sun also has a great effect on stamina, fitness, and muscular development.
There are several things you can do to increase access to sunlight; things such as engaging in more outdoor activities, using light drapes and curtains, using mirrors and angles to bounce sunlight around a room, choosing light and airy colors for your décor, etc.
However, like most things we have been given to enjoy, moderation is key to getting the best of natural daylight. You should keep exposure moderate; factors such as your skin type, time of day, and how much skin is exposed all determine the healthiest dosage of sunshine for you. If you are not used to the sun, you’ll have a higher sensitivity to it. Avoid sunburn by building your tolerance slowly. People who are light-skinned will benefit from a 10- or 15-minute daily dosage, while a dark-skinned person may require almost six times more exposure.
Take advantage of nature and get a little extra sunshine today – it’s good for you!