Written by Sara Brown
Can regular sunshine give you better health? Let’s find out…
Over the last few decades, skin specialists have promoted the idea that you should not be exposed to the harsh rays of the sun. Direct exposure to sunlight can cause damage to your skin, resulting in skin cancer.
While most people are aware of the dangers of overexposure to sun rays, many don’t realize that sunshine offers enormous health benefits as well. Sunshine is a powerful medicine form, and it affects our ability to think clearly and to sleep well. What many people don’t know is that this sunshine is necessary for several biological processes in the skin. Considered a blessing to the human race, vitamin D is an important nutrient that affects the healthy functioning of all body systems. Let’s discuss the surprisingly potent benefits of sun exposure in detail.
Benefits of Sun Exposure
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a hot topic for many men and women as they age. Around the world, one in three women and one in five men above the age of 50 will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture. It is a common bone condition that affects the bone cells, making them weak and brittle. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the proper absorption of calcium in the body. No matter how much calcium you are taking, if your vitamin D levels are low, calcium won’t be absorbed properly in the body.
Regular exposure to sun rays promotes vitamin D production, which in turn enhances calcium absorption in the body. These two nutrients keep your bones healthy and strong.
Enhance Immune Mechanism
The benefits of vitamin D are not just limited to strong and healthy bones. This sunshine nutrient also acts as a strong immuno-modulator. An immuno-modulator is a substance that regulates the activity of your immune system and aids it to act at a required level. Vitamin D enhances the immune system when required, thus keeping several diseases at bay.
Furthermore, it promotes the production of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. Low levels of melatonin are associated with poor quality sleep and sleeplessness. Exposure to sunlight during the day increases the natural production of melatonin at night.
Effects on Nervous System
Sunshine or vitamin D has neuroprotective abilities that are beneficial for alleviating the symptoms of several neurological disorders. Studies have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to reduce agitation, increase sleep efficiency and decrease nighttime activity in Alzheimer’s patients.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with neurocognitive decline and has been associated with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, epilepsy, depression etc.
Alleviates Skin Conditions
Sunlight is usually recommended in treating various skin conditions, such as psoriasis, vitiligo and atopic dermatitis. It has been confirmed that UV rays can enhance skin barrier function.
Studies have found that regular exposure to small amounts of sun can actually have a protective effect on the skin. It depends upon the type of the skin, amount of exposure and time of sun exposure.
Eases the Symptoms of Mild Depression
Numerous clinical trials have found that sunlight can ease mild depression. It has been demonstrated that sun exposure increases the levels of natural anti-depressant (serotonin) in the brain. Serotonin uplifts the mood, thus making you feel happy.
Drawbacks of Sun Exposure
However, prolonged exposure to harsh sun rays can have detrimental effects on human health. Studies have found that over exposure to sun can result in acute and chronic effects on the skin, eyes and immune system. According to studies, overexposure to intense rays of sun can damage the skin, resulting in sunburn, skin cancer and photo-aging effects. Sunburn is caused by the immediate effect of UV radiation on the skin. If exposure to detrimental sun rays continues for years, the damaged skin has the chances of developing skin cancer.
Overexposure to sun can also cause degenerative changes in the skin cell, thereby resulting in early development of the effects of aging. This includes wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dark spots and crow’s feet. These changes may take many years of exposure but when they occur, the damage is irreversible.
Some studies have also demonstrated the harmful effects of sun rays on eyes. Overexposure to sun light can cause inflammatory reactions in the eye. This can lead to actinic keratosis and cataracts.
So, can regular sunshine give you better health?
Well, sunlight is so much more than just vitamin D, and the benefits of sun exposure definitely outweigh the drawbacks. However, you need to keep in mind your skin type and the duration of sun exposure. The best way is to gain the benefits of sunlight in a healthy way while minimizing your risk of overexposure.