We tend to hear a lot of bad news about how the sun can hurt us and how we should avoid it to protect ourselves, especially during summertime. But while it is important to be careful, it doesn’t seem as scary when dreary winter days continue to loom. So, since sunlight is not all bad and can provide a vital source of nutrition (particularly Vitamin D, which sunlight produces in our bodies) we want to spend a little time talking about why you should soak up the rays this season when you get a chance. Read on below to see our reasons for getting some wintertime Vitamin D.
Good for your skin + body
First of all, there is this little known thing called skin cancer, which – in any form - is obviously NOT GOOD. However, here’s a caveat to this well-known truth.
According to the National Institute of Health, outdoor workers (who spent 3x-9x more time in the sun than indoor workers) actually saw a decreased risk of melanoma. Researchers believed that this was due to the way indoor workers’ bodies broke down vitamin D3 (formed after outdoor exposure), thus leading to Vitamin D deficiencies and a higher risk. You can read more about it at this article, but basically, continued (sensible) exposure can have positive benefits for you skin.
Whether you are an indoor or outdoor worker, sun can be good for your skin on other ways too, as long as you use adequate coverage and keep in mind to limit excessive amounts of time in the direct sun. For instance, sunlight can help heal psoriasis, a persistent skin disease often treated with phototherapy, as well as pervasive and uncomfortable blemishes. It can even relieve pain throughout your body and suppress symptoms related to fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Good for your blood pressure
For years, scientists have wondered whether or not sunlight impacts blood pressure. After a study done by British researchers, they finally think that they know why. These researchers argue that because NO (nitrous oxide) is stored in the top layers of our skin, it is easily accessible by sunlight. When exposed, blood vessels widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream, which then lowers blood pressure. Some exposure to sunlight also increases white blood cells, strengthens immunity and defends the body against infections.
Good for your mood
There’s no question that we all start to feel a little down in the wintertime - and now, you’re not imagining it. In the last few years, studies have demonstrated that exposure to sunlight increases our production of serotonin, a hormone that helps boost your mood and feel calm and focused. On the other end, darkness – or lack of sunlight – triggers the release of melatonin, which can be as insignificant as inducing sleepiness or as serious as causing Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression.
There are many more ways the sunlight benefits human health, just like there are others that are more harmful and helpful. No matter what you decide to do, we recommend taking advantage of those sunny days, while listening to your body and remembering not to overdo it.