While most of us are taught to fear the sun, moderate sun exposure is a must. As the days grow shorter and cooler and we’re less likely to be outside, we are getting dramatically less day-to-day sun, which can affect our health and our mood.
The sun is essential to life: we need its rays in order to survive. Of course, it’s also important to avoid spending hours and hours out in the sun without protection.
Not only is sun important for the production of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that helps to fight inflammation and protect us from cancer, research has found that exposure to the sun in appropriate amounts offers numerous other health benefits.
These include enhancing the mood and boosting energy levels through the release of endorphins, treating skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis, relieving the pain of fibromyalgia and inducing nitric oxide, which helps to protect the skin against UV damage as well as promoting wound healing and offering cardiovascular protection.
Of course, due to the dangers of the sun that are often talked about, many of us aren’t getting enough vitamin D, which the body makes itself, but only in response to sun exposure. This is even more true during the winter time, when we’re often stuck indoors.
According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide:
“The same DNA-damaging, sunburn-causing UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block also do some good: They kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Research shows that many people have low vitamin D levels.
There is a well-documented relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor bone health. Now links have been made to everything from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. ‘Linking’ low vitamin D with these diseases doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, but it suggests that possibility.”
An increasing number of both mainstream and alternative health professionals suggest that sun is essential for good health and should not be avoided entirely. Again, this doesn’t mean laying out out for hours at a time under the sun, but it does mean you can stop being obsessive about covering yourself with SPF 50 all year round, or avoiding the sun altogether.
Even during the winter, it’s important to get outdoors. Just ten minutes a day will give your body the message to make more vitamin D, and it’s likely to boost your mood too. Consider it a nice time out, away from work or the distraction of all of those high tech gadgets.
A short sun break is a great way to destress and take a breather while upping your vitamin D levels… so get out there ASAP!