Exposing yourself to the sun is an activity with numerous advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the increasingly well researched harmful effects (sunburn, burns, cancer risk), there are also numerous benefits that are explained in more detail in this article.
The Main Benefits of the Sun
Promoting the production of vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble prohormone, which means it is a precursor to a hormone. It occurs in two forms: D2 or ergocalciferol and D3 or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by the body when exposed to the UVB rays of sunlight. A 15-minute exposure to sunlight per day is sufficient to provide 80 to 90% of the body's needs. This function of the sun is essential, since the body is unable to produce it in any other way. Nevertheless, vitamin D is essential for its functioning and especially for bone health. In fact, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to diseases such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Likewise, vitamin D strengthens the immune system.
Lowers blood pressure
In 2014, researchers showed that daily exposure to 30 minutes of sunlight lowers blood pressure, and thus the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases.
Provides mental and physical well-being by ensuring chronobiological balance
According to various studies, spending time in sunlight increases the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) in the brain, which contributes to a sense of well-being by regulating mood. In this way, low levels of serotonin are linked to a higher risk of seasonal major depression, which is triggered by the changing seasons.
Note: At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to release another hormone called melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
Preventing certain cancers
Although too much sun can contribute to skin cancer, a moderate amount of UV rays has a preventive effect on certain cancers, such as colorectal, pancreatic or prostate cancer.
How Can I Get the Most Out of the Sun’s Benefits?
The sun is a source of benefits, as long as you don't overexpose yourself to it and you protect yourself with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Unprotected sun exposure leads to sunburn, accelerated skin aging (brown spots, wrinkles, fine lines...) and skin cancer. In addition, UVA rays damage elastic fibers, accelerating the sagging of the skin.
It is recommended to expose to the sun in the morning and to avoid sunbathing between 12 and 16 o'clock. Daily exposure to the sun for about 15 minutes is enough to cover a day's needs and stimulate vitamin D production.
Note: Sunbathing dries out the skin, so be sure to moisturize it after sunbathing. For example, you can use the body cream with ten ingredients.
LAMBERT G. W. & al. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. The Lancet (2003).
VAN DER RHEE H. J. & al. Vitamin D and the prevention of cancer: A systematic review of epidemiological studies. European journal of cancer prevention: the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (2009).
LIU D. & al. UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2014).