How Important Is Sunshine To Your Health?

Jul 1, 2021
By
Tavares Schulist
Cardiologist, Gracie Square Hospital

How Important Is Sunshine To Your Health?

Stop and think about the following fact for a second: we humans, as a species, evolved under the sun. Our bodies interact with sun light in ways we might only think plants are capable of. So, what does our body produce with those rays of light and how important is sunshine to your health? Let’s explore!

Sunshine Beyond Vitamin D

When you think about sunshine and health benefits, probably the first thing that comes to mind is vitamin D. If you look beyond that you will find out that much like plants, our bodies synthetize essential nutrients and hormones with the help of those rays of light.

Our bodies use sunshine to produce the following:

  • Vitamin D3
  • Melatonin
  • Serotonin

What is Melatonin for?

We all know that vitamin D is crucial for our immune system. But what about the hormones in the list above?

Melatonin is the one you have probably heard about the most. That is because you can buy synthetic melatonin over the counter. You are likely to get it if you have sleeping problems and want to go for a more natural solution.

If you think, however, that a natural solution to your sleeping problems is what you would like, why start at the pharmacy? You can boost your melatonin levels by exposing yourself to some sunlight, even though sunshine in itself is not responsible for the production of melatonin.

In fact, it is the lack of sunshine that triggers the production of this hormone in your body. Nevertheless, if you get more sunlight, your body will be better equipped to start producing this hormone once the sun goes down.

Added Benefits of Melatonin

Stress reduction is the other crucial role that melatonin plays in our bodies. To be more precise, regulating your melatonin production is what helps lower stress. Sunshine is, once again, the catalyst that will help your body regulate the production of this hormone.

How About Serotonin?

Sunshine helps you with stress and also with depression, thanks to the second hormone on our list. Serotonin is perhaps a less well-known hormone. Our bodies boost serotonin production with the help of those crucial rays of light.

Serotonin helps us with our mood because it allows communication to run smoothly throughout our nervous system. Here are some other benefits our bodies derive from better communication between our braincells:

  • Better sleep
  • Well-regulated appetites
  • Digestion

Multiple Benefits

As you might have realized already, Vitamin D, melatonin, and serotonin, have multiple effects on our bodies. Sunshine itself gives us many more benefits than the ones listed above as well. Here are some other benefits we derive from exposing our bodies to the sun:

  • Healthy bone density –thanks to vitamin D
  • Greater exposure to the sun can make your life longer
  • If you get those rays of light between 8 am and noon, that might be able to help you lose weight

Remember: Don’t Have Too Much!

Despite the benefits and the undeniable fact that our bodies evolved to use sun light if you get too much of it you can also harm yourself. Extended exposure to the sun can get us skin burns. Consistent excess of sunlight can also lead to cancer, so striking a balance is crucial.

How Much Sunshine Should you get Every Day?

Limit your exposure to the sun and use sunscreen if you are going to be out there for too long. Anyway, your body only needs between 5 to30 minutes of sunshine to derive many of these benefits, so enjoy the sun in moderation and boost your health for free!

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