In most parts of the world it’s summer time again, so if there’s one very easy thing you can do to impact your mood and overall health, it’s get a little sun.
Exposure to the sun helps reduce cancer, improves nighttime sleep, and boosts mood.
Humans are solar-powered. The benefits that come from sun exposure include:
- Vitamin D production, which is linked to lower rates of colon, kidney and breast cancer.
- Without vitamin D, only 10%-15% of dietary calcium and only 60% of phosphorus is absorbed.
- Daytime sunlight exposure helps regulate melatonin, a hormone that impacts nighttime sleep.
- Exposure to sunlight can improve one’s pain threshold and lower anxiety.
There’s no faking it.
Vitamin D3 is produced when Ultraviolet B (UVB) comes in to contact with uncovered skin. Sunlight hitting you through glass, the shade, or through your clothes will not give you sufficient UVB to produce vitamin D. It’s possible that sunscreen will also prevent vitamin D production. And there’s a danger to taking vitamin D supplements: these bypass the body’s natural regulation, causing you to get too much. Some debate exists over the efficacy of tanning beds, but early research indicates that moderate usage is ok.
Where, when and how much?
It’s difficult to give a precise recommendation because so many factors are at play. For example, if you live north of Boston or the northern border of California (42 degrees north latitude), the sunlight isn’t strong enough for vitamin D synthesis between November and February. Meanwhile, if you live on the latitude of Los Angeles or South Carolina, you can get vitamin D all year round. However, wherever you are, try these rules of thumb: wear as little as possible for full-body exposure and, depending on how intense the sun is, get between 5 and 30 minutes each day.
We recommend starting every day with an outdoor morning meditation with your shirt off.