The 8 Top Health Benefits of Sunlight

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benefits of sunlightHave you ever wondered why spending a few minutes basking in warm sunlight feels so good?

Many people are intrinsically drawn to the sun, perhaps because their bodies intuitively know that it’s so beneficial (provided it’s not overdone).

Vitamin D: A Key Reason Why Sunlight is Essential

Much of the research into the benefits of sunlight has focused on its role in vitamin D production. And, indeed, your body produces vitamin D following exposure to ultraviolet rays (particularly ultraviolet-B, or UVB) from the sun. Many Americans are deficient in vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in preventing cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and more.[i]

Vitamin D also plays a role in bone and cell growth and immune system function and is known to help reduce inflammation. As such, it’s been suggested as a key player in helping to ward off and treat countless chronic diseases.

While many health agencies suggest avoiding sunlight, there’s reason to believe that this could increase your risk of becoming vitamin-D-deficient. A growing number of experts now advise, instead, to expose your skin to sunlight for periods of five to 30 minutes in order to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. According to the National Institutes of Health:[ii]

“It has been suggested by some vitamin D researchers, for example, that approximately 5—30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis and that the moderate use of commercial tanning beds that emit 2%—6% UVB radiation is also effective.

… Individuals with limited sun exposure need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement to achieve recommended levels of intake.”

Beyond Vitamin D: 8 More Health Benefits of Sunlight

Contrary to popular belief, sun exposure isn’t only a matter of vitamin D production. There are actually quite a few other beneficial effects of UV radiation other than vitamin D production, which were recently discussed in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.[iii] The authors explained:

“Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been used since ancient times to treat various diseases. This has a scientific background in the fact that a large number of molecules (chromophores) in different layers of the skin interact with and absorb UV. These interactions may have both positive and negative biological implications.”

When you expose your skin to solar radiation, i.e. sunlight, the researchers noted the following benefits:

8. Improvement of skin barrier functions, making skin more resistant to irritants

7. Increased melanin in your skin after several days; this delayed tanning acts as a sunscreen

6. Helps treat human skin diseases including psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and scleroderma

5. Suppresses symptoms of multiple sclerosis

4. Generates nitric oxide (NO), which may reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health

3. Antimicrobial effects, which may promote wound healing (from UVA-induced NO, which also acts as a neurotransmitter)

2. Improved mood through the release of endorphins, enhanced energy and relaxation

1. Reduction of pain in people with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia

How Much Sunlight is Enough? How Much is Too Much?

This depends on many factors, including your location, the weather, your health and age, and your skin color. Many experts agree that a few minutes (generally up to 15 or 30) of sun exposure at a time may be beneficial, while you should avoid excessive exposure that could burn your skin.

What’s ‘excessive’ for you will depend on the factors noted above. As explained in Environmental Health Perspectives:[iv]

“As for what constitutes “excessive” UVR [ultraviolet radiation] exposure, there is no one-size-fits-all answer … ‘Excessive’ really means inappropriately high for your skin type under a particular level of ambient UVR.

… Many experts are now recommending a middle-ground approach that focuses on modest sun exposures.”

How to Harness the Sun’s Healing Heat in Your Bedroom

Aside from the ultraviolet light from the sun, heat from the sun is also beneficial, thanks to a specific wavelength of light known as far-infrared rays (FIR). Unlike ultraviolet rays that are associated with sunburn and skin cancer, FIR is safe and will not burn your skin. What it will do is penetrate deep into your body, and while you cannot see FIR with your naked eye, you can feel it as a source of heat.

benefits of sunlightMany living creatures appreciate the heating effects of far-infrared rays. If you have pets, you know your dog or cat will seek out virtually any sliver of sunlight to lounge in … simply because it feels so intrinsically good.

But there’s more to it than that. Along with acting on your tissues thermally, infrared light may have photo-chemical effects, which means photons (light waves) interact directly with individual molecules to induce chemical changes.[v] One of its primary uses is for treatment of muscle aches and pains, because the heat is capable of penetrating down two to three inches (compared to just 2-3 mm for regular heating pads).

The thermal effect of deep heat on your tissues causes blood vessels in capillaries to dilate, which improves blood circulation and promotes pain-relief healing and wellness.

You can experience this by lying out in the sun for a few minutes … or you can soothe muscle aches and pains right in your bedroom using LosetheBackPain.com’s Far-Infrared Back Pain Heating Pad.

The Far-Infrared Heating Pad is an FDA class II medical device. It is indicated for:

  • The temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain and stiffness
  • The temporary relief of joint pain associated with arthritis
  • The temporary relief of muscle spasms, minor sprains and strains, and minor muscular back pain
  • The relaxation of muscles
  • The temporary increase of local circulation where applied

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