Sunshine is a powerful promoter of health and well-being. It is the source of energy for the earth. It provides for the growth of green plants needed for our enjoyment and food, and enables plants to create oxygen out of carbon dioxide. Sunlight promotes positive thinking by increasing serotonin, an important “happiness” brain chemical. Reduced serotonin levels are connected to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), irritability, depression, aggression, anxiety, lack of concentration, chronic pain, fatigue, nausea, obsessive-compulsive disorder, fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heat intolerance. Serotonin has also been connected with eating behavior and body weight.
Another important brain chemical that sunlight impacts is melatonin. This brain chemical helps us to have a good night’s sleep. Adequate sunlight during the daytime leads to higher levels in the brain at night and improves sleep as well as mood.
Sunlight has been shown to kill germs. Therefore, the simple practice of opening the blinds can help you be healthier, so give your bedding a sunbath to get rid of germs.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. In this way, it facilitates the building of strong bones. Sunlight efficiently converts a cholesterol metabolite into Vitamin D. This “sunshine vitamin” is important for many reasons, including its impact on the immune system. Several recently published studies offer some of the strongest evidence yet of the power of the “sunshine vitamin” (vitamin D) against Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Rheumatoid Arthritis, type one diabetes and other auto immune diseases. Research studies confirm the inverse relationship between sunlight and blood pressure. There is also evidence that vitamin D protects against some cancers.
Unfortunately, sunlight has gotten a bad reputation. Yes, excessive amounts of sunlight can increase the risk of skin cancer and cataracts, but moderate amounts can be extremely beneficial. Sun in high doses does increase skin cancer risk. It is commonly understood that basal and squamous cell skin cancers (the most common types) are linked to sunburn. These are treatable and do not usually result in death or serious damage, but it is always best to avoid getting a sunburn.
Sunlight, in moderate amounts, can actually help prevent cancer. Adequate sunlight exposure appears to protect against melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, presumably through the increased production of protective vitamin D. One study that looked at overall cancer rates in several states concluded that, although frequent sun exposure statistically causes 2,000 U.S. cancer fatalities per year, it also acts to prevent another 138,000 U.S. annual cancer deaths and could, possibly, prevent 30,000 more deaths if Americans practiced regular, moderate sunning. For the best health, it is important to get adequate sunshine without getting sunburned.