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Editorial

Moderate sun exposure is good for you

  • PublishedFebruary 24, 2014

Bright and sunny days make most people try to stay indoors or scamper to the nearest shade to avoid the sun. But exposure to sunlight is not always bad news. Research has established that 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure, two to three times a week, is good for your health. While it is necessary to avoid the harsher elements of direct sunlight, a lack of it may not be good for your health.

Today’s busy lifestyles, where many people work in-doors all day long, may leave you with little sun exposure. You are advised to deliberately seek some sun exposure, at least for a few minutes each day. For instance, you can take a 10 to 15 minutes walk during your lunchtime or tea break.

Healthy sun exposure has numerous health and beauty benefits and first on the list is provision of the vital vitamin D. Ninety percent of the body’s vitamin D requirements come free from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, while the rest is obtained from foods and supplements.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is made in the skin when skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. As much as too much exposure to the sun is detrimental to the health of your skin, Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure has been linked to the prevention of some skin cancers and is believed to be vital in protecting skin cells from DNA damage that may lead to cancer. The vitamin has also been found to be effective in treating psoriasis – a skin disease marked by red, itchy, scaly patches. Ultra violet rays from the sun can actually kill bacteria that may be found on the surface of your skin, thus acting as a natural antiseptic.

Vitamin D is key to the process of absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which have various functions in the body including maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and skin. Research suggests that having low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of type-1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and certain types of cancers. Being out in the sun helps warm the body’s muscles and eases stiffness, thus reducing the pain caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Maintaining the right amounts of vitamin D has also been linked to a healthy body weight.

The sun also plays a role in putting a smile on your face as it raises levels of serotonin, a hormone that regulates learning, mood, sleep and vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels). Higher levels of the hormone elevate the mood. In fact, people who suffer from depression or mood swings can benefit from exposure to UV light.
Published on January 2013

 

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