Summer is here, and with the warmer weather, people will be going outdoors a lot more. Because people are outside, the focus in the media and elsewhere is on warning people about the hazards of too much sun.
It is something to be aware of, but it should not discourage people from getting out because sunlight is important for good health as well. In fact, the benefits of sunlight are a lot greater than most people may imagine, many of them coming from the production of vitamin D in the body, which requires sunlight in order to manufacture the vitamin.
Sunlight is essential, and everyone should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes every day in the sun. Here are a few of the many benefits of sunshine.
Boosting your immune system
Studies have shown that sunlight has the effect of boosting the immune system. One way it does this is by increasing the activity of T cells in the body. These cells are part of the immune system and are responsible for fighting infection. In fact, immune cell activity increases after only five to ten minutes of exposure to sunlight.
Preventing vitamin D deficiency
Sunlight induces the body to manufacture vitamin D, which plays a role in many bodily functions. It helps to maintain healthy bones, supports the health of the nervous system and immune system, helps regulate insulin levels and even reduces the risk of developing cancer.
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to more illnesses and infections, fatigue, depression and back pain. If vitamin D is lacking for a long period of time, it can lead to osteoporosis.
Maintaining healthy bones
Vitamin D helps the body better absorb calcium, which is a basic component of bones. This is why a lack of the vitamin can eventually lead to osteoporosis.
Studies have indicated that exposure to sunlight causes the increase of a natural antidepressant in the brain – serotonin. The brain manufactures more serotonin when it is sunny.
Lowering blood pressure
Sunlight can help lower blood pressure. It does this by causing a reaction with the nitric oxide that is stored in the top layer of the skin. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator and moves into the bloodstream when exposed to the sun, causing blood vessels to dilate and lowering blood pressure.
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