Even though we are all spending a lot more time indoors right now, it is important to still get enough sunlight. Studies show that Mother Earth has been exposed to the sun for at least 3 billion whole years. This confirms that all life forms depend on it. Sunshine is not just important for plants but also for us humans. There are many ways to get more sunlight into our lives. The easiest, and socially-distancing, friendliest way, is to make sure we allow it to enter our homes through our windows and/or skylights and sun-tunnels. Pull back the curtains, open a window and let the sun shine in! If it is a nice day perhaps you can sit on your front porch or back deck to soak up a few rays, or walk around your block (while keeping a safe distance from others).
And while it is important to know the health benefits of daylight, it’s also important to understand that we need sunshine in moderation. Too much of it is a risk of sunburn or worse, skin cancer. Of course, the level of damage by the sun depends on skin type and duration of exposure. For example, individuals with pale skins are more prone to damaging effects of the sun than those with tan skin.
With this information in mind, here are the top 12 health benefits of sunshine you should be aware of:
1. Bone Health
You probably know that sunshine is a good source of vitamin D. What you probably don’t know is the benefits that vitamin D brings about. Well, this vitamin has so many benefits of which bone health is one of them. According to research, vitamin D helps to build strong bones. In doing so, it helps to prevent rickets in kids and osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and other bone-wasting conditions in adults.
2. Dental Health
The way that vitamin D from the sun strengthens the bones is the way that it strengthens the teeth. Studies show that people in sunny regions are not much affected with teeth cavities as people in locations that are not prone to much sunshine. The bottom line is that you need vitamin D for strong teeth. This is more important for the little ones as they like taking sugary stuff.
3. Sleep Quality
When you are exposed to moderate sunshine during the day, your brain produces the hormone melatonin. This hormone is very important in helping you sleep soundly later in the evening. Your body is designed in such a way that it can tell when the time is right for sleeping. So, you don’t have to wear sunglasses or sunblock immediately when you go out to the sun. You should wait for some time to boost melatonin production.
4. Promotes Immunity
A recent finding by Georgetown University indicates that sunshine helps to boost the activation of T-cell. They are immune cells that you need to fight invading microbes. Another finding shows that the reason why a person with diabetes struggle with insulin resistance is that of low vitamin D. The study concludes that you need vitamin D from the sun to reduce insulin resistance and to manage diabetes.
5. Cancer Prevention
Even though excessive sunbath is a risk of skin cancers, moderate sunshine does the opposite. It helps to prevent skin cancers among other types of cancer. Researchers argue that having more daylight hours improves protection against ovarian and prostate cancer in women and men respectively. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer, cancer of the colon, and pancreatic cancer in both genders. This explains why most supplements meant for cancer patients are rich in vitamin D.
6. Better Brain Function
One study shows that low sunshine exposure often causes cognitive impairment. In this case, your ability to think better and to stay alert is adversely affected. This is all related to not getting enough vitamin D. The brain has receptors that are very sensitive to sunshine. The energy from the sun stimulates them so that they can help your brain plan and process things.
7. Brain Health
Sunshine not only enhances brain functions but also helps to protect against its disorders. For example, a certain study shows that moderate sunshine protects against schizophrenia later in life. Another study shows that sunshine helps to not only manage but also prevent Alzheimer. There are also suggestions that that sunshine exposure can be used to delay Parkinson’s disease. It also makes Parkinson’s less severe by improving the mood and motor functions of the patient.
8. Enhanced Mood
Are you aware that bathing under moderate sunshine can make you happy? Well, it does. According to research, sunshine necessitates the release of hormone serotonin by your brain. The hormone naturally enhances your mood. It helps you to become calmer and more focused. Without enough sunshine, your serotonin levels reduce drastically, and this affects your mood. You are likely to experience depression symptoms such as extreme sadness and mood swings.
9. Stress Relief
Stress occurs when cortisol levels rise unexpectedly. This is mostly because of a sad or anxious moment. For you to achieve stress relief, your cortisol levels have to be managed. This is where moderate sunshine comes in. A recent report shows that moderate sunshine can reduce cortisol production by about 25%. So, spending a few hours outside on a routine basis is advisable.
10. Heart Health
Medical studies show that the rate of cardiovascular morbidity, as well as that of cardiovascular mortality, can be reduced by 30-50% with sufficient vitamin D intake. This show that vitamin D is important in improving your heart health. It’s necessary for reducing heart attack and other relatable conditions.
11. Reduced Blood Pressure
Sunshine is also important in lowering your blood pressure just as it’s important in boosting your heart health. Experts say that vitamin D from the sun helps to restore both your diastolic and systolic rhythms. This ensures that your blood pressure is normalized. Additionally, sunshine helps your body to secrete nitric oxide which regulates blood pressure.
12. Skin Health
Contrary to expectations, the WHO actually recommends sunshine exposure for general skin health. This is widely supported by top dermatologist around the globe. They argue that UV exposure is great for treating skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and skin acne. But still, it should be insisted that the exposure should be moderate. You should consult your dermatologist nonetheless.
Enjoy the sun safely and wisely this spring and summer and reap the many health benefits it can offer! To increase natural light in your home, consider adding skylights, sun tunnels, and larger or more south facing windows and patio doors.
Adapted from an article written by Dr. Peter Hinz, 2019