There is nothing better than getting outside on a sunny day and soaking in some sunshine! Not only is getting outside and moving beneficial to your health but enjoying that bright warm sunshine has proven benefits of its own. In fact, showing off some skin and getting sunlight on your arms and face every day can be beneficial for your body and your mind. Here are just a few of the little-known health benefits of daily sunlight.
Health Benefits of Daily Sunlight
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
Researchers have noted a link between exposure to the sun and lower blood pressure levels and reduced cardiovascular issues. One way sunlight exposure appears to help is by causing the skin to release stores of nitric oxide. This release may cause arteries to dilate, which lowers blood pressure.
2. Decreases Inflammation
Sunlight can trigger the suppression of the immune system, which can reduce inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Sunlight has also been associated with improving autoimmune conditions, including arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. Improves Mood
Being in the sun generally makes people feel good, and there are actually scientific reasons for this effect. For example, UVB ray exposure can cause the skin to produce beta-endorphins. These hormones, in turn, help reduce pain. What’s more, getting natural sunlight increases the vitamin D production, which can help with symptoms of depression and potentially improve your overall mental health and well-being.
4. Strengthen Bones
Made by the body through exposure to sunlight, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diets, which are minerals necessary for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Not getting enough vitamin D can be bad for bone health and can lead to bones becoming soft or weak.
5. Supports Quality Sleep
Sunlight supports better sleep and sets circadian rhythms by regulating serotonin and melatonin levels. The hormone melatonin is produced by the body as the sun goes down to help prepare for sleep. When you’re exposed to the sunshine in the morning, it tells your body to stop making melatonin, so you wake up better and ready to take on the day.
6. Decreases Stress Levels
Similar to improving sleep, sunlight can also decrease stress. Being outside in the sunlight will help your body naturally regulate melatonin, which can help reduce your stress levels in addition to improving your sleep cycle.
7. Strengthen the Immune System
Getting adequate sunshine exposure helps support a balanced immune response in the body. This is because sufficient levels of vitamin D, which can be produced in the body from sunlight, are needed to support a healthy, properly functioning immune system.
8. Creates Vitamin D
Amongst all the little-known health benefits of daily sunlight, the most well-known benefit may be its ability to initiate the process of vitamin D production in the body. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a fat-soluble prohormone best known for its role in supporting bone health and aiding in the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the GI tract.
The benefits of vitamin D, however, far surpass its role in maintaining healthy bones. For instance, vitamin D3, the active form, functions as a hormone in the body. In fact, nearly every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors. This includes cells in the pancreas, skin, thyroid, stomach, colon, and more. Along those lines, research has found vitamin D has important roles in supporting other body systems, tracing its ability to target over 200 different genes in the body.
Are You Getting Enough Sunlight?
While sunlight is abundant in many areas, even folks who live in moderate climates may not get enough sunshine with their bare skin exposed. To ensure you are getting enough sun, at a minimum, if you have fair skin, you need to spend about 15 minutes in the sun with the face, arms, and legs exposed several times a week between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you have darker skin, you need even more time, up to a couple of hours, in the sun to boost your levels of vitamin D. And as you get older, it’s harder for your body to produce vitamin D3, and it’s even more likely you’ll experience a vitamin D deficiency.
If you find you aren’t getting enough daily sunlight, you certainly aren’t alone. In fact, scientific studies reveal that about one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency, while 50% of the population has a vitamin D insufficiency. With numbers like that, many people turn to vitamin D supplements, high-potency vitamin D3 formula with vitamins A and K2.
Despite the benefits, excess exposure to sunlight comes with a couple of major concerns that should be taken seriously. It’s important to ensure you’re protecting your skin from burns from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. However, as long as you’re taking precautions and limiting the time you expose your skin to direct sunlight, soaking up a few daily rays has many positive effects.