Beyond Vitamin D: How Sunlight Benefits Your Health

07 May 14

vitamin D If you spend some time every day in the sunshine you could be improving your health and wellbeing, according to experts. While the sun does have its dangers (overexposure to the sun can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging) we could all benefit from catching a few rays. You probably already know that sunshine helps your body produce vitamin D, which is essential for the effective uptake of calcium for strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D may also help protect against cancer. But there are other benefits from the sun, besides the dose of vitamin D.

Here are seven reasons why you should get out in the sun more.

  1. Better mood. A sunny day makes everything seem better and more fun – and there’s science behind this feeling to back it up. When you’re enjoying the sun and wearing sunscreen so you don’t burn, the body produces more serotonin. Exposure to UV light also helps Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers feel better.
  2. Better sleep. Spending time outside in the sun helps effectively set your body clock so you stop producing melatonin – the “sleepy” hormone – in the daytime, so you naturally produce more at night. You fall asleep more easily and sleep better at night.
  3. Better immune system. Sunlight helps suppress an overactive immune system, according to experts. Autoimmune conditions may be improved with sunlight exposure, such as asthma, psoriasis, and lupus.
  4. Better bones. Getting enough sunlight is important because it helps to develop strong bones through vitamin D helping the body absorb calcium. Sunshine can help prevent osteoporosis, bone diseases, and bone fractures.
  5. Better blood pressure. Sunlight may even help to lower your blood pressure, according to reports. The mechanism by which this works is through a release of a substance into the bloodstream when UV light hits the skin. Lower blood pressure reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.
  6. Better chances of avoiding cancer. Exposure to the sun’s rays on a regular basis results in lower incidence of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
  7. Better cognitive functioning. Exposure to bright light in the daytime helps Alzheimer’s sufferers, according to studies. Patients who underwent light therapy scored better on cognitive tests and had less severe symptoms of depression.

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