If you are like me, the realization that summer is almost over is devastating. It always goes by so fast! So if you haven’t been outside much enjoying the sun and nice weather, now is the time to do so. Especially when there are great benefits from getting sunlight for only 15-20 minutes each day.
- Sun exposure promotes bone health. We already know that we get Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is important in calcium and phosphorous absorption in the bones, strengthening them and preventing fractures. It has also been shown that Vitamin D has a positive effect on bone density, which we know decreases as we age. So as we age, it is important to continue to get sun exposure.
- Sunlight promotes healing of skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.
- Sun exposure improves brain function. Unfortunately as we age, our memories and brain function decreases. A study done at the University of Cambridge found that lower levels of Vitamin D in the blood correlated to lower cognitive function, when studied in 1,200 men and women 65 year of age and older. There have even been more studies performed that show that sunlight promotes nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are formed, organized and stored.
- Sunlight lowers cholesterol. The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones, along with the sex hormones needed for reproduction.
- The sun’s rays lowers blood pressure. A study done at the University of Edinburgh found that nitric oxide, which is known to decrease blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, is released into the bloodstream as soon as sunlight hits the skin.
- Sun exposure increases the oxygen in human blood. It also enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues; very similar to the effects of exercise. The sun has an impact on stamina, fitness and muscular development.
- Sunlight builds the immune system. White blood cells in the body play a major role in supporting the immune system and defending against infections. Exposure to the sun increases the number of white blood cells.
- Regular sunlight exposure boosts the growth and height of children, especially babies in the first few months of life.
- Sunlight can help ease depression. A lack of sunlight can lead to a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. It is more common in winter months, but also common in people who work long hours cooped up in office buildings. On sunny days, the brain produces more serotonin, which is a mood-lifting chemical in the brain.
- Sunlight can improve sleep quality. Exposure to the sun during the day increases the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep, at night. Low levels of melatonin production is linked to poor sleep quality.
- Sun exposure may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Vitamin D deficiency may increase your risk of several cancers, including breast and colon cancers. Numerous studies have shown that sufficient Vitamin D levels have decreased the risk of cancer by 60%.
Now get outside and soak up these benefits!