Sunlight: Do We Need It?
If winter seems to be endless, and it makes you depressed when the day is way shorter than the night, you already know the answer: yes, we do need sunlight. However, it’s not just a matter of preference: scientific evidence suggests sunlight is what can affect us both directly and indirectly: we benefit not only from the rays, but also from knowing the daytime is long.
Reason #1: Vitamin D
When human skin is exposed to sunlight, it converts the chemicals found in it into vitamin D, which is used in the body in a variety of ways.
Those people who live in northern countries often lack this vitamin, and as of this moment, vitamin D supplements seem to the only reasonable supplement that can be recommended to most people, because in America alone, about 40% of citizens have vitamin D deficiency.
If the vitamin is produced in insufficient amounts, it can affect many organs of the body, and the liver is one of them. It can contribute to NAFLD development or progression, and those with the disease often have difficulty processing the vitamin due to the disease.
Another study suggests that women who lack vitamin D have an increased risk for developing multiple sclerosis. The difference between those with normal vitamin D levels and those with the deficiency appears to be very significant, making up 43%.
One more reason to get your daily dose of sunlight to avoid vitamin D deficiency is that vitamin D3 is reported to be able to repair the cardiovascular system. A team of investigators from the Ohio University found that vitamin D3 can help repair the damage to blood vessels done by hypertension. This vitamin affects the blood vessel lining and helps repair endothelial cells damaged due to cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.
The list of health benefits vitamin D provides is very long, as it affects many organs. Sunlight is a major source of vitamin D, so while sunbathing is a thing that should be done very carefully, exposing your skin to sunlight in an appropriate way and on an appropriate day is a good idea.
Reason #2: Happiness
A recent research carried out by Brigham Young University showed that the amount of hours between sunrise and sunset affects mood. According to them, people become distressed more often is days are short and there is not much sunshine.
The findings turned out to be surprising, as it was not the amount of sun rays to which the skin of the study participants was exposed that mattered, but the duration of daylight. That being said, even if you spend days in your office or home while it is often shiny outdoors, it will still affect your mood and make you feel happier, despite the fact that you rarely go outside.
The study results suggest that such factors as rain, pollution and temperature do not affect people’s mood to the extent daytime length does. It means those living in northern countries could benefit from visiting some southern country if they are depressed or just need relaxation.
Reason #3: We just like it!
Let’s admit it: most of us like summer more than winter. Winter has its advantages too, as it offers a lot of opportunities to do winter sports, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while reading a book in a cozy armchair, and wonder at the marvelous landscapes that snow-covered hills, mountains and forests make. Still, summer is a thing many people are always waiting for, especially if they live in countries where there is not enough sunshine. We just love feeling the warmth of rays touching our skin, swimming in rivers, seas and oceans, and enjoying the benefits summer brings. That is why sunlight is beneficial: it can make you feel happier by means of activities and providing an opportunity to spend more time outdoors.
Just remember to follow basic sunbathing rules and do not forget to buy a sunscreen!
Sunlight and Vitamin D: A global perspective for health – Tandfonline.com
Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress – Jad-journal.com