Countless stores carry isles of sunscreen with SPF ratings as high as 100 SPF showing our fears of skin cancer, but many don’t realize getting at least 10 minutes of sun without sunscreen two to three times per week is actually healthy for your body. The only popularly known benefit is the Vitamin D it produces, making people believe that milk or supplements can take of. But the sun provides the Vitamin D in a more absorbable rate than any other source. The benefits of Vitamin D start with bone health. Both growing children and the elderly require extra amounts to keep from having bone deficiencies. Pediatricians watch for healthy bone growth rates in children. Some cultures even believe there is a direct link of regular sun exposure in the first few months and the growth potential of the child. Doctors monitor senior patients for bone health and the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis.
Melanoma (the deadliest of skin cancers) risk in outdoor workers such as farmers or construction workers, is actually lower than that of office workers due to the cancer protection of the sun’s UVB rays. The risk of other cancers such as colon and breast cancer is also reduced with regular sun exposure. Low Vitamin D levels have actually been linked to any form of cancer. Other skin issues such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema are improved with sun exposure therapy and many dermatologists even offer UVB lamp treatments for these issues.
Neonatal jaundice, which is seen by the yellowing of the baby’s skin and eyes, can affect the liver and is treated by hospital UV lamps. Vitamin D also builds the immune system through white blood cells. Children with lower levels have more illnesses and longer hospital stays. Sun exposure can help with infectious disease prevention and studies suggest it can even curtail chicken pox virus flares.
Studies have found maternal sun exposure during the third trimester of pregnancy may even reduce the risk of Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, making a possible link of Spring verses Fall birth dates. Even preadolescence regular sun exposure can reduce the risk. Regular sun exposure can reduce the risk of hardened arteries, lower blood pressure as well as affect cholesterol levels and heart health.
Morning sun exposure is an important factor in maintaining a regular circadian rhythm (your wake and sleep cycles). Your mental, physical, and behavioral health follow this twenty-four hour cycle that directly affect your sleeping patterns. This sun exposure can also have a positive affect on Alzheimer patients, making them less stressed and offering better sleeping habits.
Sunlight exposure increases serotonin levels in the brain lifting your mood and energy levels. Seasonal Effective Disorder, most common in Winter months, is caused by a depletion of serotonin levels. It is also more common among people who work long hours in office buildings verses outdoor workers who get direct sunlight.
So if you find yourself facing these issues, perhaps adding a regular amount of sunlight exposure to your day, you may find an improvement in the ailment. And if you find yourself feeling a little down, maybe some sunshine on your shoulders could be just what you need.