How come sitting in the sun and soaking up the rays on your face and body feels so good? Why as human beings do we migrate toward the light instead of the shade on a sunny day? Regardless of why our innate knowledge tells us to bask in the glory of the sun, science is learning and uncovering the sunny truth on why the sun, in moderate amounts, is good for us.
There is much hype surrounding the sun and its UV rays. Most of the media would have us believe that if we so much as step outside of our dark homes that the UV bombardment on our skin will kill us! Not true. Now, one thing should be clarified – sun IN MODERATION – is good for us. Sun BURNING is NOT! So, before you run out and sit for the entire afternoon in 90 degree weather without any sunscreen, finish reading this article!
The sun is a needed source of energy for all living things. For plants it provides nourishment through photosynthesis. For humans, it plays a crucial role in the synthesis of activated Vitamin D. Without Vitamin D and its chain of reactions, the body will eventually succumb to any of a myriad of illnesses such as osteoporosis and rickets. Why? Because activated Vitamin D plays an extremely important part in the body’s calcium supply. Calcium and Vitamin D work in tandem, both are needed by the body for healthy and strong bones and teeth.
The activated form of Vitamin D is now one of the leading treatments for psoriasis as it is a potent inhibitor of skin cell growth. Less well known is the fact that people who are deficient in Vitamin D show higher rates of many cancers. The current thought of why this is true goes back to activated Vitamin D’s ability to curb cellular overgrowth, which is exactly what cancer is – an unregulated overgrowth of cells.
We’ve been talking about activated Vitamin D but how does that differ from other forms of Vitamin D and what does the sun have to do with it? First of all, the sun hitting the cells of the skin is what stimulates the skin cells to produce inactivated Vitamin D. From the skin the inactivated Vitamin D must travel to the liver and then to the kidneys where it finally becomes activated. The activated form can then makes its way to the intestines where it increases the absorption of calcium and to other parts of the body where it is used in other ways.
Another very important aspect of sunlight is its affect on mood and emotions. Many people give anecdotal evidence of feeling better when exposed to sunlight, however, there is also scientific evidence pointing to the same conclusions.
In summary, exposure to the sun gets a lot of bad rap. Indeed, overexposure is extremely risky leading to DNA damage and even cancer. The health industry urges all who will be under sun exposure for an extended period of time to use sun screen accordingly. On the other side of the coin, however, is the body’s requirement for healthy and moderate doses of sunlight in reducing the risk of other serious diseases and emotional issues.