Health benefits of Sunlight Exposure

Increase your vitamin D intake and soak up the benefits of safe sunlight exposure.

Sun exposure has numerous health benefits that go beyond just vitamin D.

The compilation of data revealed a linked between low vitamin D levels and risk of colorectal and breast cancer. According to the researchers, raising the serum levels was found to be ideal for cancer prevention, which means 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancer could be prevented each year with sufficient exposure to sunlight.

Dr. Cedric Garland, DrPh, of UC San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center and co-author of the study, said, "This could be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements and short intervals - 10 or 15 minutes a day - in the sun." The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recommended levels of daily vitamin D is 1,000 IUs, the equivalent of 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure.

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A Better Night's Sleep

Your amount of daylight exposure is vital in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm. These rhythms include physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and respond to light and darkness in the body's environment, says the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The sleep-wake cycle is contingent on morning sunlight to help you sleep at night. Natural daylight helps your body clock restart to its active daytime phase. To ensure that your body clock is in sync, be sure to go outside and get some sunlight when you wake up or turn on the lights in your room. This will give your body the signal that it is daytime and not nighttime. To avoid confusing your circadian rhythm, try not to sit in dim settings during the day because your body will associate the bright light with night. The less morning light you expose yourself to, the more difficult it will be for you to fall asleep and wake up at your set time, says Discovery.com.

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Enhances Your Mood

Regular sunlight exposure can naturally increase the serotonin levels in your body, making you more active and alert. In an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exposure to bright light is seen as an approach to increase serotonin without the use of drugs. The positive correlation between the development of serotonin and the hours of sunlight during the day was seen in healthy volunteers. In a sample size of 101 healthy men, researchers found that turnover of serotonin in the brain was lowest during the winter whereas the production rate of serotonin was highest when the subjects stayed in the sunlight longer.

The article therefore suggests that spending time in the summer sun can help you avoid the winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression, and mood variation has been linked to sunlight exposure. Dr. Timo Partonen from the University of Helsinki's National Public Health Institute in Finland and researchers found that blood levels of cholecalciferol, also known as vitamin D3, are relatively low in the winter months. Sunlight exposure in the summer can equip your body to stock up on vitamin D3 that can last throughout the fall and yield for the production of more vitamin D, which leads to higher serotonin levels.

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