It is a fact of life that unknowing to most of us the best things in life are actually free! Talk of the free air (oxygen) we breathe in, the rains that fall, the vegetation, and natural light which emanates from sunshine, etc. Ranging from better bone health to improved sleep, there are so many wonderful health reasons for you to ensure you do not let the sun rise and go down each day without ‘seeing’ you.
In this part of the world we have taken such a natural endowment as sunshine so much for granted that we do not place value on it. But those who do not get enough of it really can tell you what great value sunshine can bring to you. In the very cold climates such as in most parts of Europe and North America, sunshine can be a scarce commodity, and so many people fall victim to the resultant effect of the lack of vitamin D.
Expert studies have revealed that when natural sunlight hits the skin it triggers the body’s production of vitamin D which is also called “the sunshine vitamin.” This happens through the action of the sun’s UVB rays; it is therefore vital for your general health. Sunshine fights against inflammation, reduces high blood pressure, and helps your muscles. Vitamin D as well builds brain function and according to experts, may even protect against cancer. And, if you have a low level of vitamin D you may be susceptible to heart disease, prostate cancer and also dementia.
Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine, and author of The UV Advantage (I-Books, #6.99), says: “We get about 90 to 95 per cent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers.”
Nature actually designed your body to be in the sun, and if you experience sunlight during the day experts say it is critical to your wellbeing. And so you are advised to get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight on a daily basis. Getting enough sunlight impacts very much on depression, seasonal affective disorder, as well as sleep quality. For weight watchers, a little sunshine in your life has been known to also promote weight loss!
For this reason ‘summer’ – a season of sunshine after the quiet periods of harsh winter, and then spring, is a period in the western hemisphere when folks joyfully embrace outdoor activities, play games and sports and go on holidays, etc. At the instance of this, they are astonished at the kind of health benefits they derive by just spending a little time outdoors.
Majority of people may just need a few minutes exposure to the sun in order to gain the advantages of its benefits. People who are not used to much exposure to the sun’s rays may wish to begin with just a few minutes stay in direct sunlight to seize the advantage of its many health benefits.
But having established all these facts, experts warn that precaution be taken. We all know too well that too much direct exposure to sunlight can be injurious to our heath, especially the intense afternoon sun. An overdose of this is liable to induce skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin, and so it is wise to apply the right balance at all times. Following are details of some of the major benefits.
Lowers risk of cancer
Having the right amount of sunlight on a regular basis can as well counter your risk of developing other types of cancer. According to a study published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, “Whereas skin cancer is associated with too much UVR exposure, other cancers could result from too little. Living at higher latitudes increases the risk of dying from Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers, as compared with living at lower latitudes.”
If you soak in some sunshine during the day it helps maintain circadian rhythms while improving your serotonin levels and in turn enables you to easily get adequate sleep. You would be able to enjoy a better night rest and get up better rejuvenated in the morning.
Sunshine will help douse seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression caused by the lack of natural light like during the winter months in the cold regions, etc. SAD is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons; it begins and ends at about the same times every year, and sunshine is an adequate antidote for it.
Averts Vitamin D Deficiency
Just getting exposed in the sun for a few minutes is one of the easiest ways to avoid Vitamin D deficiency, which scientists say contributes to a number of other serious health issues. The lack of Vitamin D is associated with a greater risk of developing a number of cancers, including cardiovascular disease, cognitive issues in the elderly, as well as type I and II diabetes.
Takes care of Body Aches
Apart from revving up your mood, getting some sunshine into your life is also able to mitigate aches and pains. Studies show that people with soreness can profit greatly from the anti-inflammatory effects of the sunshine vitamin.
Supports Eye Health
Scientific research has proven that Vitamin D is vital for good eye health, especially as one grows older. A brief exposure in the sun from time to time is able to fight against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that is capable of deteriorating your vision. But whenever the sun is intense you are better advised to as well protect your eyes with sun shades and not to look directly into the sun.
Besides all these, sunlight benefits you in many other ways including – encouraging the production of white blood cells which help to boost your immune system and fight infection. Sunshine will also boost your fertility because it reduces levels of the hormone – melatonin which suppresses fertility, thereby enabling you to conceive. In the tropics such as Nigeria however, the best times to get healthy sunshine is at the early hours of the morning (7-10 am), as well as late afternoon (4-7 pm), when the sunshine is just mild.