When you were a kid, do you remember playing outside in the sun? Did the warmth of the sun make you feel good?
It seems that most adults don’t feel as carefree anymore when they are outside in the sun.
Most people are afraid of the sun because of skin cancer. This is a real concern, but it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the health benefits of sunlight.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, which can develop on skin that is exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight.
So, it may not be the sun as much as the time that you spend in the sun, or an unknown toxin trying to exit your body through your skin.
Getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands, and face, 2-3 times a week, is enough exposure to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits from the sun. But, the sun must penetrate your skin.
Wearing sunscreen or clothing over your skin won’t result in your body’s vitamin D production.
If you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes, it’s a good idea to protect your skin. You can do that by applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Wearing a protective hat and shirt will also help.
Tips To Avoid Skin Cancer
There are ways that you can avoid skin cancer risks when enjoying natural sunlight.
- Have some shade available,
- Avoid longterm exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM; again, make sure that you have some shade available if in the sun during these hours,
- Do not burn,
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds,
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses,
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF when in the direct sun for a long period of time.
Many people question if sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher really makes a difference. Can’t any good SPF sunscreen work if applied regularly?
The SPF rating is debated, but according to the research, the SPF rating depends on how much sun exposure you’re actually getting when you’re outside.
SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, 15 protects against 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 protects against 97 percent, and SPF 50 is about 98 percent.
So, if you are out in the sun for 3 hours or so, SPF 15 should cover you, no pun intended, but if you are in the direct sun for several hours, you might want to apply a higher SPF.
Remember the tips above, and use your sunscreen often.
Although excess sunlight can contribute to skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has actually been shown in studies to have preventive benefits when it comes to cancer.
According to researchers, people who live in areas with fewer daylight hours have higher cancer rates than those who live where there’s more sun during the day.
These cancers include:
- colon cancer
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- ovarian cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- prostate cancer
And did you know that natural sunlight can also be good for your skin?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sun exposure might help treat several skin conditions. Doctors have recommended UV radiation exposure to treat:
Sun and Happiness
The right balance of natural sunshine can have lots of mood-lifting benefits,
People are no different from any other animal – it’s not by chance that we wake up when the sun is up, and go to sleep when the sun goes down.
Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is what wakes you up and boosts your mood and helps you feel calm and focused during the day. At night, the lack of light triggers your brain to produce another hormone called melatonin. This hormone kicks in to make you sleepy.
Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with seasonal affective disorder or SAD. This is a form of depression triggered by the lack of sunlight.
So you see, you need some natural sunlight everyday.
The health benefits of Vitamin D are well known, and many people take a Vitamin D supplement, but why not get your vitamin D directly from the sun? It can save you money, plus, there are many health benefits to exposing yourself to natural sunlight.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to the sun. You can also get it through foods that have absorbed the sun’s rays.
Vitamin D is produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight, and it’s a fat-soluble vitamin that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.
The intensity of the sun depends on where you live, but no matter the season, make sure you get a regular dose of natural sunlight every week, preferably every day. Take the right precautions to avoid over-exposure, seek some shade, wear a hat and sunglasses, and get your dose of the feel-good benefits directly from the sun.
The same goes for your pets, too.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.
Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.