Sometimes, a little fresh air and sunshine can be the best medicine. According to Dr. Juli Mazi ND, though, the health benefits of getting out in the sun go beyond simply lifting a person’s spirits. While it’s certainly important to wear plenty of sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the sun’s UV rays, spending time in the sun is an activity that is healthy for both the mind and body.
If you are looking for an excuse to get outside and enjoy the summer sun, here are the top three health benefits of spending time in the sun according to Dr. Juli Mazi ND.
1) Promoting Vitamin D Production
There are thirteen essential vitamins that the human body needs on a regular basis. Of these thirteen vitamins, vitamin D is the only one that your body is capable of producing itself. However, it needs an important ingredient to do so, and that ingredient is sunshine. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesizes vitamin D from cholesterol similar to the way that plants use photosynthesis to synthesize food from water and carbon dioxide. Most people are not able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight alone and still need to get vitamin D from foods or supplements. With that said, though, spending a little extra time in the sun is still a great way to boost your vitamin D levels.
2) Improving Your Sleep
When it’s dark, your brain creates a hormone called melatonin that helps you fall asleep. It turns out that sunlight plays an important role in melatonin production too, though, by regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. When you are out in the sun during the day and turn out all the lights when it’s time to unwind for bed, your body falls into its natural circadian rhythm – which includes producing the appropriate amount of melatonin at the appropriate time.
3) Improving Your Mental Health
There’s no denying that spending time outdoors in the sunshine can lift your mood and reduce stress. It turns out, though, that the reason for this is just as much biological as it is psychological. Spending time in the sun has been shown to boost serotonin levels. Known as the “happy hormone”, serotonin stabilizes your mood, reduces stress, helps promote better sleep, and offers a wide range of other mental and physical health benefits. The role that sunshine plays in producing serotonin is one factor behind seasonal affective disorder – a phenomenon where people feel more depressed during the winter months when the days are shorter.
Enjoying Health Benefits From Fun in the Sun
From helping you fall asleep easier to promoting vitamin D production to boosting your mental health, spending time in the sunshine is something that can improve your health in a variety of ways. While it’s worth mentioning again the importance of protecting against skin cancer, Dr. Mazi ND tells all of her patients that sometimes a little fun in the sun offers more benefits than meets the eye.