Natural sunlight exposure, even in common sense moderation, has been so vilified by the media and medical community that mentioning its merits can seem contrarian. However it is becoming a more accepted fact that vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” plays a crucial role in our health and well being (both mental and physical). Perhaps even in our longevity.
Sunlight Makes Your Skin Produce Vitamin D
Vitamin D, as you are probably well aware is made primarily by your own skin. Upon contact with the UVB rays of the sun an interaction takes place which produces this vitamin. Essentially sunlight is the natural conduit by which our body makes the most effective, potent and usable form of vitamin D.
It is incomparable to any oral supplement you can take in terms of effectiveness. Your body cannot make too much of it because it is a very intelligent machine that works flawlessly in harmony with nature to create just the right amount.
The recommended daily exposure is about 15 minutes, or just until the skin turns the lightest bit of pink. This exposure is most effective when the arms and legs are not covered so the maximum amount of skin is exposed to the vitamin D-conducting UVB rays. It is very important to never burn the skin and use a natural and safe (preferably not any of the commercial ones with any of those harmful chemicals) sunscreen if you plan on prolonged exposure.
Your Skin is Made to “Tan”
There is a perfectly good reason why your skin turns a darker color when you are exposed to UV light. It was made to darken in order to protect your skin form excessive UV exposure. Of course this is a desired look that some call “unhealthy” but in fact a light tan is very healthy.
Everyone has varying degrees of melanin, which is the pigment that darkens when exposed to sunlight. This means they also have varying degrees of natural “built in” protection. People who are very fair skinned are usually of European origin, and they do have to watch their exposure levels.
However, this does not mean they should avoid sunlight all together. Avoidance of the sun can mean dangerously low vitamin D levels. Low levels of this vitamin have been linked to higher risk of many different types of cancer. Vitamin D also helps your body effectively use calcium. For women this is extremely important since we are prone to bone density loss as we age.
Sunlight Improves Your Mood In More Ways Than One
Having a “sunny outlook” is a phrase that got its start for good reasons. It is a proven fact that sunlight deprivation can lead to depression and prolonged blue moods. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real and recognized disorder that occurs in people who experience sunlight related mood swings. There is even a prescribed treatment of artificial sunlight exposure.
Sunlight is naturally healing in so many ways. The enveloping infrared heat of the sun’s rays are penetrating and actually help to relax our muscles. The light also produces feelings of well being and happiness as it enters the eyes. More evidence is showing that it triggers the mood enhancing chemical serotonin as it is processed by the brain.
As you can see, sunlight can be a great way to boost your health and your mood. As long as one monitors their exposure in a responsible way and NEVER gets burned they will find that sunlight is actually one of nature’s most powerful health tools.