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Benefits of sunlight

Here comes the sun! With summer almost officially here, we’re all thinking “I gotta get outside and enjoy the sun!’  While too much exposure to the sun can be harmful, you need to seek out the right balance to get the most out of the sun’s beneficial rays.

In a nutshell, sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of a hormone called ‘serotonin.’ It’s a boost-enhancer associated with helping us feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting cues trigger the brain to make another hormone called ‘melatonin.’ It’s responsible for helping us feel sleepy and fall asleep. Without enough sunlight exposure, our serotonin levels can dip low, making us feel depressed. Besides this, sunlight helps us feel good in so many other ways as follows:

Sunlight & Mental Health:

Exposure to sunlight benefits those of us suffering from non-seasonal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and pregnant women with depression.  Anxiety-related disorders and panic attacks have also been linked with changing seasons and reduced sunlight. The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes through the eye. Sunlight triggers special areas in the retina, which taps the release of serotonin.

Sunlight and Vitamin D:

Getting 5-15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face 2-3 times a week is enough to reap the Vitamin D benefits of the sun. The sun’s benefits go beyond just fighting stress. While researchers don’t always have an exact measurement for how long you should stay outside to glean these benefits, the following are some of the other reasons to catch some rays.

  • 50,000 international units (IUs) in most Caucasian people;
  • 20,000 to 30,000 IUs in tanned people;
  • 8,000 to 10,000 IUs in dark skinned people.

Thanks to the sun, the vitamin D made in us plays a big role in bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

Sunlight and Cancer Prevention:

Although excess sunlight can contribute to skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has cancer preventive benefits. Those who live in areas with fewer daylight hours are more likely to have many cancers than those who live where there’s more sun during the day, according to a study from Environmental Health Perspectives. These cancers include:

  • Colon cancer;
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • Ovarian cancer;
  • Pancreatic cancer.

Sunlight and its Bonus Effects:

Research studies have revealed preliminary links between sunlight as a potential treatment for a number of conditions. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Thyroiditis.

Summer is almost here. S0 dance, prance, enjoy playing in the sun!

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