Benefits of Sunlight Exposure

February 23, 2022

With each passing year, sunbathing becomes ever more popular. More and more people are voluntarily exposing themselves to the sunlight. We all know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D, but could it also increase our risk of cancer? Let's look at the benefits of sunlight exposure and see if it's safe to go outside in bright sunlight.

Apart from acquiring immunity-boosting, bone-protecting, and anticancerous vitamin D, here are the top 8 benefits of being in the sun.

  1. Helps in decreasing high blood pressure and glucose intolerance

UV radiation from the sun induces the production of nitric oxide (NO) which is responsible for a variety of effects such as vasodilation, meaning widening of blood vessels, with a consequent decrease in blood pressure.

  1. Release of the ‘feel-good’ hormone- Endorphin

It has been found that UV rays from the sun can cause the release of endorphins in the body. These are the ‘feel-good hormones which are released whenever there is a rewarding state. So folks, those times when you feel low or depressed you know what to do! 

  1. Acts as an analgesic- pain reliever

Noteworthy properties of sunlight exposure include its analgesic effects. In a prospective study of patients undergoing spinal surgery, the ones exposed to 46% higher intensity of natural sunlight, during their hospital recovery period, perceived marginally less pain and required the use of fewer analgesic medications (6).

  1. Helps improve sleep

Solar exposure helps in improving sleep through by the effect of melatonin. It is a hormone produced in the skin through sun exposure and helps with inducing sleep. UV rays induce the production of melatonin along with the regulation of the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that manages the sleep-wake cycle.

  1. Helps with the autoimmune responses

It is known that both UVA and UVB have a direct immunity suppressing effect. This mechanism may explain the benefit of sun exposure in the protection from certain autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. Helps in enhancing mood

Being in sunlight triggers the release of brain hormones too, one of them is serotonin. Sunshine is thought to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain which is associated with boosting mood and helping you feel calm and focused.

  1. Improves Cognitive function

In terms of cognitive benefits, a study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that subjects who were exposed to six hours of sunlight felt significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening and less sleepy at the end of the evening compared with those who were exposed to artificial light.

  • Great impact on human life span

A study from the journal Medical Hypotheses concluded that specific wavelengths of UVR, experienced at critical times in development as at conception or early gestation, and with specific intensity or rate of change, modulate the expression of human diseases and affect the length of our lives (7).

Lastly, in what might be one of the most phenomenal discoveries of our time, findings point to man’s ability to derive energy directly from the sun- a constant, daily, guaranteed source of energy.

Sun Exposure and Cancer Risk : Is it Something One Should Be Afraid of?

The most pressing concern of sun exposure is skin cancer. But, statistically, more than 100 deaths occur from cardiovascular disorders for every person who dies of skin cancer. Melanoma, the worst of skin malignancies, accounts for only 1-3 per cent of all instances detected; therefore, according to Jacobsen, people who work outdoors have half the melanoma rate as than those who stay indoors. Is there something to be terrified of when it comes to skin cancer? Or, is it a needless fear-mongering campaign by the sunscreen business to discredit sunshine exposure?

Sceptical? Consider how our ancestors lived in past centuries. They were usually outside in both hot and cold climates, relying on melanin as natural skin protection. "Our dark-skinned African ancestors secreted so much melanin that they never had to worry about the sun," Jacobsen writes. Melanin, the fundamental pigment in our skin that is found everywhere in our bodies, is one of the most fascinating biomolecules discovered so far.

Melanin's ability to transform sunlight into metabolic energy is comparable to how plants capture sunlight through chlorophyll which is why our species should be characterized as photoheterotrophic instead of heterotrophic. Melanin also defends against ionising radiation while converting it into energy that can be used in the body.

Safe Window :

Dminder is a software application that you can readily download to your smartphone and use when you go outside to get your Vitamin D dosage.

This application allows you to specify settings to better determine how much vitamin D you're absorbing. These are some of the parameters:

  • Geographical Area
  • Type of Skin
  • Timing & Duration of sunlight exposure
  • Sky Overcast

Dminder keeps track of your Vitamin D dosage and alerts you when you've received too much sunlight, so you can get into the shade and avoid getting sunburn.

If you'd like to learn more about how to use this app, please contact us.

The Takeaway:

Cancers such as prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer are all reduced by exposure to sunlight. Circadian rhythms are also improved. Sunlight suppresses autoimmune responses and decreases inflammation. It helps with almost any mental ailment you can think of. It's also freely available.

Don't be afraid, just make sure you're adequately protected

Getting your bare skin exposed to sunshine without the use of harmful sunscreen has a plethora of health benefits. Step  So step out there and soak up some sunshine!

References :

Team iThrive

Collection of iThrive's Nutrition teams posts

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.