Fear the sun no more. In moderation, sunshine is a vital part of healthy living.
We all know that vegetation needs sunshine to grow and that sunshine melts the snow to fill our rivers and lakes with necessary water. Sunshine also warms us and the world so that life is possible. But over the past few years we have been warned of the dangers of sunshine to our health.
Recognizing that over exposure to the sun will cause damage to our skin and cause skin cancer, studies are now suggesting that regular exposure to the sun’s rays actually improves health. As little as 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine twice a week can make a difference.
What does Sunshine Do?
Sunshine stimulates the production of serotonin which promotes a good mental outlook and fights Seasonal Affective Disorder. It also stimulates the pineal gland which produces melatonin. Melatonin is one of the chemicals that operates our bodies clocks and helps with sleep function. Ninety percent of our vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun.
We can get vitamin D from food, but not enough for optimal health which is why supplementing our intake is necessary. What does vitamin D do for our bodies?
- Most recent studies suggest that since vitamin D helps to lower blood cholesterol levels it is a factor in fighting heart disease.
- Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and teeth as it aids in the absorption of calcium
- It also helps prevent certain cancers including lung, prostate, and maybe even certain skin cancers.
- Sufficient vitamin D also regulates the immune system. One study saw a 70% reduction of colds in 3 years in participants given vitamin D supplements.
- VitaminD may even help slow down the aging process. A study showed that the biological markers, called telomeres, were longer (a sign of being biologically younger and healthier) in participants with higher levels of vitamin D.
No, sunshine is not a miracle cure-all. It is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Like all activities, taking in the sun must be done in moderation. The best way to absorb it is without sunscreen so limit your exposure to short periods of time. The body takes in the sun’s goodness through any exposed skin area. The body can only store vitamin D for 60 days so regular exposure is called for.