Top 5 Health Benefits of Sunlight
Top 5 Health Benefits of Sunlight
From a young age, we're taught about the risks of sun exposure and told we need to avoid the sun as much as possible. But our ancestors evolved under the sun's warm rays; we need adequate sunlight for overall well-being. It's essential for good health and may even extend your life! (1)
Unfortunately, nowadays, most people spend all day inside offices or homes, no matter the season. We're sunlight 'deficient', and it shows!
In this article, we explore the health benefits of prioritising time in direct sunlight.
1. Essential for Vitamin D Synthesis
Many of the benefits of sunlight are attributed to vitamin D synthesis. When UVB rays from the sun hit your skin, the body begins the process of synthesising the essential nutrient and prohormone vitamin D from cholesterol. No other vitamin is made like this!
This fat-soluble nutrient is essential for mental and physical well-being. In fact, low vitamin D increases the risk of death from heart disease as well as other causes (2). Crazy, right?! Luckily, this can be remedied by getting more sunshine.
This is what the research is saying about the benefits of vitamin D3 (3, 4):
- Improving the absorption of bone-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus
- Better bone health and reduced fracture risk
- Boosting mood and reducing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Enhancing immunity
- Controlling gene expression
- Reducing cancer risk
Take note: You won't benefit from sunlight through a window as glass blocks out the important UVB rays necessary to make vitamin D3.
If you live in a cold climate and can't get enough sun exposure, a supplement may help you get some of the benefits. Pure Health's Vitamin D3 + K2 supplement is an effective way to top up your levels and promote well-being! D3 + K2 work synergistically, and our product delivers them in a bioavailable liposomal form for efficient absorption.
2. Enhances Energy Levels and Alertness
There's nothing quite like the sun's bright blue light waves to wake you up! Sitting outside for several minutes (without sunglasses) in the morning is a fantastic way to increase energy levels.
As light enters the eyes, it stimulates cells in the retina, which tell the pineal gland in your brain to suppress the 'sleepy' hormone melatonin. It stimulates cortisol production for a burst of energy, helping you get ready for the day ahead. In addition, research shows that sun exposure has a significant impact on alertness and cognitive function (5).
3. Balances Your Circadian Rhythm and Improves Sleep
Bright blue light from the morning sun gives you better daytime energy, but you also need plenty of sunshine if you want to sleep well! Sunlight syncs the body clock or circadian rhythm; you're designed to get your sleep and wake cues from natural light (6).
A 2017 study of office workers found that those with higher light exposure in the morning, as well as during the entire day, noticed significantly better sleep quality (7).
So, we suggest getting unfiltered sunlight a few times per day – especially in the early morning – to reset your circadian rhythm and get to sleep faster at night! A healthy circadian rhythm is also important for regulating appetite, body temperature, hormone production, and digestive function.
4. Balances Your Mood
For most of us, a warm sunny day can turn a bad mood around quickly. That's because when bright sunlight hits your eyes, it acts as a natural mood booster. The sun supports the release of 'feel-good' chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine (8). These 'happy' hormones make you feel optimistic, motivated, and calm. A 2015 workplace study found that greater levels of sunlight exposure were associated with job satisfaction and a reduction in depression and anxiety (9).
This explains why living in colder climates and areas with limited sunlight in winter increases the risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a condition known to cause depression, sluggishness, and insomnia.
5. Promotes a Healthy Immune System
Not only does sunlight help you feel better emotionally, but it also boosts immunity. It's free medicine!
Vitamin D, from sunlight exposure, is a potent immune nutrient, which just happens to be at its lowest during the winter months when most people get sick! In addition to vitamin D production, sunlight appears to be an immunomodulator. Those living farther away from the equator – thus getting fewer sunlight hours – may be at higher risk for autoimmune conditions (10).
Exposing your skin and eyes to unfiltered sunshine is like having access to a completely free and natural pharmacy.
However, it's important to take care as the sun is powerful. We suggest building up slowly. Start by getting outside for 5 minutes in the morning, midday, and late afternoon and increasing until you can manage 10-15 minutes twice daily. As long as your diet contains plenty of water, antioxidant-rich foods (green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruits and veg), and antioxidant supplements like Liposomal Vitamin C, you're good to go!