More often than the benefits, people will cite the dangers of the sun. Sunburns and skin cancers are something everyone wants to avoid, and for good reason. However, not only does the sun provide us with a stream of warm energy, but it also is crucial for the body to produce vitamin D. This has led ome researchers to argue that the health benefits of sunlight outweigh the potential health risks.
So what are the benefits of getting some sunshine on your skin?
- Sunlight nourishes and helps us maintain our bodies
- It promotes a good mood and mental wellness
- Promotes healthy skin complexion
- Provides for a building up of a defense to ultraviolet rays
- Some argue that sunlight promotes the production of gamma globulin and increases white blood cell count
- Increases melatonin at night, which helps you sleep better
- Sunlight helps stimulate the body and energize us
- Most importantly, sunlight helps your skin convert cholesterol found in the skin to vitamin D, which promotes strong bones and a healthy immune system, and offers protection from some forms of cancer, osteoporosis, rickets, and diabetes.
Vitamin D and the Body
To expand on that last point, this is the major reason researchers argue that sunlight is worth the risk. Vitamin D offers exceptional protection for our bodies, and when we weigh the risk of non-melonoma skin cancers – cancers that researcher Richard Setlow of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory argues “are relatively easy to cure and have very low mortality rates” – we see that sunlight is indeed worthwhile.
According to one study, “even though rates of internal cancers such as colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer are greater in the north than the south, people from the southern latitudes were significantly less likely to die from these internal cancers than people in the north.” And sunlight is assumed to be the cause.
People who live in climates with longer winters have limited exposure when it comes to the sun, decreasing their production of vitamin D. As a result, they are more likely to miss out of the cancer-protecting benefits of the sun, increasing their risk of mortality from such diseases.
Things to Keep in Mind with Sunlight
Although sunlight has a number of benefits, there are some things you want to keep in mind. First off, everyone’s skin is different, and you want to be careful, regardless of the benefits.
When you go outside, keep sunscreen in your pocket if you know you burn easily. Enjoy the sun for about half the time it takes to get a sunburn and then apply the sunscreen. This increases your body’s production of vitamin D, but also allows you to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. Another good tactic is to only bask in the sun around sunset, when the light is less intense.
Also keep in mind how dark you are: the darker the person, the most sunlight is needed to synthesis vitamin D. Just like above, factor in the time you need to secure the benefits before protecting yourself from excessive light that can cause burns.
Try to get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day on your body. This alone can help stimulate the production of vitamin D at a much higher rate than normal!
Keep these tips in mind, because although there are many great benefits, I don’t encourage the negligence of any form of cancer!