With all of the discussion about seeking cover and applying SPF — even on overcast days and in the winter — it’s easy to forget that tiny amounts of sun exposure can be beneficial.
If done correctly, sunbathing, which is the act of sitting or reclining in the sun, sometimes with the purpose to tan, might have certain health benefits. To be sure, there’s a big difference between stepping outside for 10 minutes without wearing sunscreen and spending time in a tanning bed regularly.
The dangers of excessive sun exposure are well-known. Sun exposure without SPF is one of the leading causes of melanoma and other skin cancers.
High amounts of vitamin D, which our skin converts to vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, have been demonstrated to help prevent various disorders and diseases. Aside from that, there are several other health benefits to sunbathing, detailed below.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Research from the University of Edinburgh discovered that when sunlight strikes the skin, a chemical called nitric oxide, which helps decrease blood pressure, is produced into the blood vessels. This discovery was significant because it was previously assumed that sunlight’s primary health advantage to humans was to boost vitamin D production.
On the other hand, sun exposure was discovered by Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, and colleagues to improve health and extend life. It’s a good thing because lower blood pressure reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Promotes Bone Health
Vitamin D enhances the absorption of bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorus in the body, as is widely known. However, new research reveals that bone density and vitamin D3 have a direct relationship.
Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin produced when sunlight strikes the skin during the Vitamin D production process. Calcium absorption is regulated by it. Vitamin D3 levels in the blood are linked to a lower incidence of fractures of nearly any kind.
Lower vitamin D3 levels in the blood, on the other hand, are linked to an increased risk of all forms of fractures. This is why, in older persons, sun exposure is extremely crucial for bone health.
Enhances Cognitive Performance
Vitamin D is now connected to many activities throughout the body, including brain function, aiding bone health, and managing crucial calcium levels. One study performed by University of Cambridge neurologist David Llewellyn looked at vitamin D levels in over 1,700 men and women aged 65 and up in England. They discovered that the lower the patients’ vitamin D levels, the worse their cognitive function was.
More research has discovered that sunshine can stimulate nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, the brain’s area responsible for memory organization, formation, and storage.
Eases Mild Depression
A lack of sunlight causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is more prevalent during the winter months. It’s especially prevalent in those who work long hours in office buildings and don’t get out much to enjoy the sunshine.
On the other hand, moderate sun exposure raises levels of natural antidepressants in the brain, which can help alleviate this and other types of moderate depression. This is because the brain creates more serotonin, a mood-lifting neurotransmitter, on bright days than on cloudy days.
Improves the Quality of Sleep
When the sun shines in our eyes, a signal is sent to the pineal gland in the brain, and the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes us sleepy) is turned off until the sun sets again. Your body receives a clear signal that it is no longer night, which aids in the maintenance of a healthy circadian rhythm. When it gets dark outside, your body receives the signal once more, and you feel weary and drowsy when it’s time to go to bed.
Poor sleep quality has been linked with low melatonin production at night due to overproduction during the day, especially in older persons. If possible, remove your sunglasses as soon as you wake up so that your body recognizes that it is day and the pineal gland stops producing melatonin.
Lessens Alzheimer’s Symptoms
Alzheimer’s patients exposed to the sun from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by darkness at night, perform better on mental assessments and ameliorate some elements of the condition. A study disclosed in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that Alzheimer’s patients exposed to bright light had fewer nightly wakefulness, depression, agitation, and function loss symptoms than those subjected to dim daytime illumination. According to the researchers, these benefits are due to more regular circadian rhythms.
Mends Some Skin Disorders
Acne, eczema, psoriasis, jaundice, and other fungal skin illnesses can benefit from sunlight exposure. For example, in one study, a four-week outdoor sunbathing therapy was found to be effective in removing psoriasis symptoms in 84 percent of participants.
While sunlight has a therapeutic effect on the skin and has been successfully used to cure skin diseases, this alternative treatment approach should be made under medical supervision to avoid negative UV radiation side effects and ensure that the benefits outweigh the dangers.
Boosts Growth in Children
This is especially true for children under the age of one. According to studies, the amount of sun exposure a newborn receives during the first few months of life impacts how tall the youngster develops. Many civilizations worldwide know this and expose youngsters to mild sunlight to help them grow and reach their full potential.
Strengthens the Immune System
Sunlight may assist in reducing an overactive immune system, which may explain why autoimmune illnesses like psoriasis are treated with it. Moderate sun exposure is also beneficial to your immune system since white blood cells grow with sun exposure and play a critical part in combating diseases and safeguarding the body against infection.
Reduces the Risk of Developing Certain Cancers
Vitamin D deficiency raises your risk of developing a variety of malignancies, particularly breast and colon cancer. However, breast cancer can be cured by eating nutritious foods and getting some sun. Drs. Frank and Cedric Garland of the University of California were the first to notice a link when they discovered that the incidence of colon cancer in New York was approximately three times greater than in New Mexico.
Vitamin D supplementation has been demonstrated in subsequent trials to result in a 60 percent reduction in the chance of acquiring any cancer. This study backs up the benefits of vitamin D and sun exposure in lowering cancer risk.