We all know that sunlight is a crucial part of day and night and our bodies’ biorhythms, but do you know that sunlight is necessary for your physical and mental health as well? Sunlight has many benefits and very few disadvantages, primary among them being that the sun is necessary for life on earth and whatever food you eat needs sunlight to grow. But sunlight has many direct health benefits as well.
The many benefits of sunlight
- Source of Vitamin D – Vitamin D is vital for building bones. It is also necessary for the absorption of calcium that helps in the body in many ways including teeth. Vitamin D is very difficult to get from food sources and supplementation is expensive and you need long time supplementation to get over Vitamin D deficiency.
- Skin – the sun helps you tan and mild to moderate tanning improve immunity levels and reduces dermatitis risk. It also helps with other skin diseases like vitiligo, psoriasis and scleroderma.
- Insomnia – the production of melatonin in the body thanks to sun exposure helps with insomnia.
- Inflammation – the warming effects of sunlight help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia and swollen or sprained joints.
- Body temperature – heat generated by the sun helps to regulate body temperature since it enhances perspiration that helps cool the body down.
- Blood pressure – regular exposure to sunlight helps reduce blood pressure.
- Blood sugar – sunlight has a hypoglycemic effect, so if you have insulin dependent diabetes, you need to check with you doctor about reducing insulin dosage in case you are going to be sunbathing for long periods of time.
- Anti-bacterial properties – sunlight has anti-bacterial properties, that is why it is important to sun your rooms, clothes and other goods as sunlight also reduces dampness and mold.
- Serotonin production – serotonin is the happiness and feel-good neurotransmitter and sunlight helps increase its production in the body.
- Depression – people who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) that occurs when exposure to sunlight is reduced greatly as in winter months often have depression or feeling blue or low, loss of energy and concentration. This may be linked to reduced serotonin production in the body. In any case, going out in the sun, even in winter, helps improve mood.
- Cancer – if you don’t get sufficient exposure to sunlight and have reduced levels of Vitamin D in your body you are greater risk of developing colon, kidney and breast cancer.
Some disadvantages of sunlight
While sunlight is absolutely necessary for life and health, too much sunlight can also have negative effects. You can suffer from over sun exposure and have
- Fainting and light-headedness
- Leathery skin
- Increased risk of skin cancer
- Heat stroke
If you go out in the sun for long periods of time, you should be protected by sun block cream or lotion, keep yourself adequately hydrated and drink enough water. It is also necessary to avoid high heat times when sunlight is at its peak and the weather is extremely hot and dry.
The amount of sunlight your body needs depends on your skin color and where you live. Light skinned people may be able to 10-15 minutes without the use of sun block whereas dark skinned people can do so for an hour or more.