In the Defense of Sunlight

by Crystal R. Mendoza Paulin

For many of us, the sun and it's heat feels like the enemy. Even worse, research has shown that excessive exposure to sunlight is linked to premature aging and even skin cancer. However, several additional studies have shown important benefits to sunlight. Shutting yourself indoors to avoid the sun isn't the answer! The key to everything in life is balance, just 5-15 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin 2-3 times a week is enough to give you these benefits:

1. Boost Your Mood

Studies have shown that limited exposure to sunlight causes a form of depression known as Seasonal Affectation Disorder (SAD). This is because sunlight is known to trigger serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that improves and lifts mood. Therefore, by spending just a little more time out in the sun you can boost your mood!

2. Strengthen Your Bones

Studies have also found sunlight to increase vitamin B production. Vitamin B is important to stimulate bone growth and to strengthen bones. This is especially important for women who are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. Just a little sunlight can strengthen your bones!

3. Prevent Other Cancers and Improve Your Immune System

While excessive sunlight is the leading cause of skin cancer, moderate amounts of sunlight could be the key to preventing various other aggressive cancers, including colon and prostrate cancer. Recent studies have found a link between vitamin D and cancer prevention. In fact, studies have reliably shown sunlight and vitamin D to boost your immune system and prevent brain degeneration. That's great news for anyone living with a neurological disorder!

So how do you get these amazing benefits with none of the negative side-effects? Follow these simple rules:

  1.  Let the sun shine directly on your face or arms for 5-15 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week.
  2. Avoid the sun's peak hours: 10 am - 4 pm. At these times, the sunlight is harshest and most harmful for you. Sunrise and sunset are much safer times to be out.
  3. Always wear sunblock/sunscreen when you're out in the sun for longer than 15 minutes.

So get out there and enjoy the sunshine! It's good for you!