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Exposed! The Health Benefits of Sun Exposure

Posted by Britt R. on

In light of the solar eclipse, we are taking a few minutes to discuss the sun and its effect on humans. Humans do benefit from moderate exposure to the sun, however they also face major risks if they receive too much sunlight.

Like we said, the sun has some notable advantages for humans. The main benefit is that it helps to increase the body’s production of Vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin.” According to Medical News Today, Vitamin D has been known to help support the immune system, strengthen bones and teeth, and assist in lowering the risk of type II diabetes, among other benefits. As further described by Medical News Today, humans experience a form of photosynthesis, “Vitamin D is produced when sunlight converts cholesterol on the skin into calciol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D3 is then converted into calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) in the liver. The kidneys then convert calcidiol into the active form of vitamin D, called calcitriol (1,25-hydroxyvitamin D3).” If one is concerned about their intake of Vitamin D, consult a medical professional, as medications may interact with its absorption as well as too much Vitamin D may cause negative side effects.

Another advantage of sunlight exposure on humans, is its assistance in increasing serotonin and melatonin levels. Serotonin and melatonin are hormones that can lead to positive moods and better sleep respectively in humans. In areas and lifestyles where exposure to the sun is limited, it is not uncommon for people to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a sadness which, according to The National Institute of Environmental Health Science, “has been linked with low serotonin levels during the day as well as a phase delay in nighttime melatonin production.” Sunlight helps combat SAD by elevating the serotonin during the day, which converts to melatonin at night.

However, when people expose themselves to too much sunlight, significant risks arise. Some of these adverse effects include sunburns, premature aging, and multiple types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Depending on a person’s skin type and geographic location, the amount sun exposure varies for each individual. The World Health Organization suggests “5 to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure of hands, face, and arms, 2 to 3 times a week” is enough to benefit from the sun. Well isn’t that just a little ray of sunshine!

Please be sure to talk to a medical professional before exposing yourself to the sun or consuming any Vitamin D supplements.

Thinking about going outside in the sun? Be sure to check out our variety of sun protection products

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Source:

National Institute of Environmental Health Science, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/

Healthline http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#mental-health2

Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php