Benefits of sunlight? After hearing all the recent bad press about sunshine, you may be wondering how the sun could possibly be good for your health and well-being.
Report after report has warned us that even a small amount of exposure to the sun is bad for us.It is good to be cautious when it comes to how much sun you are exposed to. After all, too much sunlight can put you at higher risk for skin cancer and cataracts. And it can make your skin wrinkle and age way too early in life.
There are so many benefits of sunlight.
But does being cautious mean that you should avoid the sun altogether?
No! Sunlight happens to be one of the greatest healing remedies that you can find in nature. The sun provides the energy that all living things need in order to exist on this earth.
When you take it in moderation, there are lots of health benefits of sunshine. If you hide away from the sun, you will not get those benefits.
So, what are the benefits of sunlight? Check out this long list!
* One of the major benefits of sunlight is that it helps fruits, vegetables, and grains to grow and be healthy. It also helps animals and us humans to grow and develop as well.
* A definite plus of sunshine is that it gives you a healthy looking complexion. It will make your skin smooth with an irresistible healthy glow.
* If you get regular exposure to sunlight, it will help protect your skin in the long run. That is because your body will build up a natural resistance to the harmful effects of ultraviolet light.
* If you allow your skin to get moderately tanned, it will be more resistant to infections and sunburns than if your skin is not tanned.
* The ultraviolet rays in sunshine act as a natural antiseptic. These rays can kill viruses, bacteria, molds, yeasts, fungi, and mites in air, water, and on different surfaces including your skin.
* Getting some sun tends to help clear up different skin diseases such as acne, boils, athletes foot, diaper rash, psoriasis, and eczema.
* Another of the main benefits of sunlight is that it stimulates your appetite and improves your digestion, elimination, and metabolism.
* Getting your daily dose of sunshine will enhance your immune system. It increases the number of white blood cells in your blood. It also helps them to be better fighters in their mission to destroy germs.
* Sunshine encourages healthy circulation. It also stimulates the production of more red blood cells which increases the amount of oxygen in your blood.
* Sunlight is one of the most effective healing agents that exists.
* Feeling down? One of the major benefits of sunlight is that it will soothe your nerves and boost your mood leaving you with a renewed sense of well-being. Sunlight increases the production of endorphins and serotonin in your brain which will definitely leave you feeling much better.
* Getting enough sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night. If you are exposed to natural light during the day, it will increase your melatonin output at night. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by our bodies. It enhances sleep and slows down the aging process.
* The healing properties of the sun are excellent for people who are suffering from various diseases and ailments.
* Sunlight helps to balance out your hormones. It may even help to relieve certain symptoms of PMS.
* Sunlight improves the function of your liver and helps it to break down toxins and wastes that could lead to cancer and other diseases.
* If you’ve got swollen, arthritic joints, sunlight may help lower your pain levels.
* Sunlight is an effective treatment for jaundice.
* According to some studies on the benefits of sunlight, exposure to the sun may decrease your risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
* Sunlight helps your body convert a form of cholesterol that is present in your skin into vitamin D. This results in lower blood cholesterol levels.
* Other benefits of sunlight include the life-giving energy it gives to your organs and the way it helps to strengthen and vitalize your body.
What If I Don’t Get Enough Sunlight?
Not getting enough direct sunlight on your skin can have a negative effect on your health.
Lack of sunlight can worsen feelings of depression in some people.
According to one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition your chances of getting cancer could increase by as much as 70% if you don’t get enough direct sunlight.
If you do not get enough sunlight your body may not make enough vitamin D. Having a vitamin D deficiency may put you at increased risk for bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Low vitamin D levels can also cause weak hearts, poor metabolism, and slow healing of bones and cuts.
How Much Sunshine Is Enough?
After reading about the benefits of sunlight you can see that the sun’s rays are good for your health. Just how much sunshine is the right amount for you depends on a number of factors including how fair or dark your skin is, the time of the day you go out into the sun, and where you live in the world.
The general rule is this: The darker your skin, the more sunlight you will need to activate the synthesis of vitamin D in your skin. If you don’t spend enough time in the sun, you may become deficient in vitamin D. And you could miss out on the many benefits of sunlight.
The fairer your skin, the less time it will take to activate the synthesis of vitamin D in your skin. If you are very fair skinned, a very brief amount of time in the sun should be enough to meet your needs.
An average of 10 minutes of sunlight per day all year round will make sure that you reap the benefits of sunlight and make enough vitamin D. Remember that artificial light can never substitute for the real thing.
In the summertime try to avoid being out in the direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. The summer sun is too intense between those times. Catch some rays before 10 am or after 4 pm. If you need to stay out longer than 10 minutes use a natural, chemical-free sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Most quality health food stores carry a variety of brands.
If you live in the north and have a tendency to feel down during the long winter months, try to catch as many rays of sunshine as you can. In northern countries, it is ok to get some daytime sun. Twenty minutes of sun on your hands, neck, feet, and legs is ideal and should be sufficient for you to get the many benefits of sunlight.
Try to go outside if you can because UV light does not produce vitamin D through glass. Sitting in a bright spot in your home is nice and relaxing, but it will not help you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Top 10 Tips for Healthy Sun Exposure and Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels
1. Have a healthy respect for the sun. It is powerful medicine with potentially dangerous side effects on your skin. Treat it like medication, using the lowest dose necessary, but don’t avoid it completely. Never fall asleep in the sun without protection.
2. Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems. Repeated sunburns, especially in children and very fair-skinned people, have been linked to melanoma. Whereas there is no credible scientific evidence that regular, moderate sun exposure causes melanoma or other skin cancers.
3. Prepare your skin and build up tolerance gradually. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun.
4. Get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure two to four times a week. Each of us has different needs for unprotected sun exposure to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D. Depending on your age, what type of skin you have, where you live and what time of the day and year it is, your need will vary. The farther you live from the equator, the more exposure to the sun you need in order to generate vitamin D. For instance, a fair skinned person, sitting on a New York beach in June, in the middle of the day, for about 10-15 minutes (enough to cause a light pinkness 24 hours after), is producing the equivalent of 15,000-20,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. But the same person living further north in the U.K, or Canada would need 20-30 minutes to get that light pinkness, which is all one needs. Also, people with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people, to generate the same amount of vitamin D. For more specifics, I recommend the tables in The Vitamin D Solution by Dr. Michael Holick.
5. Get frequent, short exposures. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than intermittent long ones. Note that you cannot generate Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window, because the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D production are absorbed by glass.
6. After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself. If you’re going to be out in the sun for longer periods, wear a hat to protect your face and light colored clothing that blocks the sun and keeps you cool. When you do apply sunscreen, use one with fewer chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens. Remember that even weak sunscreens block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D, so once you have applied it, you will not be making vitamin D.
7. Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats. These strengthen skin cells, helping to protect them from sun damage. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, goji berries and pomegranates and supplementing with green powdered mixes and fish oils are great options when going into the sun.
8. Have your vitamin D blood levels checked regularly. The correct blood test is 25OH vit D or 25 hydroxy vitamin D test. Be aware, however, that current “normal” range for vitamin D is 20 to 55 ng/ml. This is much too low! Those levels may be fine if you want to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, but they are not adequate for optimal health. The ideal range for optimal health is 50-80 ng/ml.
9. Don’t rely on food alone for your vitamin D needs. It is almost impossible to get your vitamin D needs met by food alone. Fatty wild fish (not farmed), like salmon and mackerel are the best food sources, but you would have to eat huge quantities of them daily to get anywhere near what your body needs. Although fortified milk and orange juice do contain vitamin D, you would have to drink at least 10 glasses of each daily and I don’t recommend doing that.
10. Take Vitamin D3 supplements if necessary. In the winter or if you don’t get enough healthy sun exposure or if your blood levels are low, make sure you supplement with at least 2,000 IU’s a day of Vitamin D3. Although I recommend moderate sunbathing, vitamin D supplements provide the same benefits as sunshine (in terms of Vitamin D needs). But, if taken in too large a dose, they can cause vitamin D toxicity, whereas sun exposure does not. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from the sun: Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs, which just reaffirms to me that we should get our vitamin D from sensible sun exposure.