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The Surprising Health Benefits of Sunlight - Vitamin D


Introduction


When we think of sunlight, the first benefit that comes to mind is its role in producing vitamin D, a vital nutrient for bone health and overall wellbeing. However, sunlight offers a multitude of other health benefits that cannot be replicated by simply taking vitamin D supplements. The sun's rays comprise various wavelengths, each with unique properties that contribute to our health and wellness. In this blog post, we will explore four major benefits of sunlight exposure beyond vitamin D, shedding light on the importance of embracing the full spectrum of sunlight for our overall health.


Sunlight and Cardiovascular Health


Did you know that sunlight exposure can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health? Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which are responsible for the majority of the sun's UV radiation reaching the Earth, have been shown to lower blood pressure. UVA exposure triggers the release of nitric oxide stores in the skin, leading to a pronounced decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This reduction in blood pressure can translate into longer life and potentially save billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year. (1)


Research has shown that populations residing closer to the equator, where sunlight exposure is more abundant, tend to have lower blood pressure levels compared to those living further away. It's clear that sunlight plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. (2)


sunlight is not only the source of vitamin d but also the great provider of various sources.
The sunlight gives more than vitamin D. Get the right dose of vitamin D for your health.

Sunlight and Circadian Rhythms


The natural cycle of daylight and darkness regulates our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm. Exposure to natural light, especially early in the morning, imprints a schedule in our bodies for sleep later at night. This ensures that we are bright, happy, and alert during the daytime and enjoy restful sleep at night.


Blue light, a component of visible light from the sun, is particularly effective in resetting circadian rhythms and enhancing performance. It suppresses nighttime melatonin production, making us more alert during the day. (3) Consequently, maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle through sunlight exposure with sufficient vitamin D production can significantly impact our overall well-being and productivity.


Sunlight and Subcellular Melatonin and Melatonin


The sunlight and the vitamin D are highly associates with the human circadian rhythm. Check how it is linked in this article.
The circadian rhythm are deeply connected with the sun exposure.

While most people are familiar with the role of melatonin in promoting sleep, recent research has revealed a new form of melatonin called subcellular melatonin. This specific type of melatonin is produced in the skin through exposure to infrared rays found in sunlight. Subcellular melatonin acts as a powerful antioxidant used by the mitochondria to repair cell damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. (4)


What's even more astonishing is that melatonin also helps protect our cells from UV damage, further highlighting the importance of sunlight exposure for our skin health. By harnessing the power of sunlight, we can promote cellular repair and protection, contributing to overall longevity and well-being. (5)


Sunlight and Psychological Well-being


Beyond the physical benefits, sunlight exposure has a profound impact on our mental health and well-being. Exposure to UV rays from sunlight triggers the production of beta-endorphins in our skin, which travel to the brain and induce feelings of happiness and relaxation. (6) This is often referred to as the "runner's high," and it serves as an evolutionary adaptation to reward us for seeking sunlight to prevent vitamin D deficiency. (7)


Moreover, sunlight exposure has been linked to reducing stress and promoting relaxation, making it a natural mood enhancer. Embracing the sun and spending time outdoors can significantly contribute to our overall happiness and mental wellness.


Conclusion


While vitamin D is undoubtedly crucial for our health, sunlight exposure offers a wide range of additional benefits that cannot be replicated through supplements alone. From cardiovascular health to circadian rhythm regulation, and from subcellular melatonin to psychological well-being, the sun's rays have a transformative impact on our overall health and happiness.


However, it is essential to practice moderation and take care not to overexpose ourselves to the sun to avoid harmful effects such as sunburn. Official recommendations are gradually acknowledging the numerous health benefits of sun exposure, with many experts advocating for small, regular doses of sunlight.


So, the next time you have the opportunity, step outside, embrace the sun's warm embrace, and let its rays work wonders on your body and mind. Remember, supplement only cannot replace the natural and holistic benefits of sunlight.


Reference

(1) Liu D, Fernandez BO, Hamilton A, Lang NN, Gallagher JMC, Newby DE, Feelisch M, Weller RB. UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-1846. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.27. Epub 2014 Jan 20. PMID: 24445737.

(2) Rostand SG. Ultraviolet Light May Contribute to Geographic and Racial Blood Pressure Differences. Hypertension. 1997;30(Part 1):150–156.

(3) Wahl S, Engelhardt M, Schaupp P, Lappe C, Ivanov IV. The inner clock-Blue light sets the human rhythm. J Biophotonics. 2019 Dec;12(12):e201900102. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201900102. Epub 2019 Sep 2. PMID: 31433569; PMCID: PMC7065627.

(4) Venegas, C., García, J. A., Escames, G., Ortiz, F., López, A., Doerrier, C., … Acuña-Castroviejo, D. (2011). Extrapineal melatonin: analysis of its subcellular distribution and daily fluctuations. Journal of Pineal Research, 52(2), 217–227. doi:10.1111/j.1600-079x.2011.00931.x

(5) Tarocco, A., Caroccia, N., Morciano, G. et al. Melatonin as a master regulator of cell death and inflammation: molecular mechanisms and clinical implications for newborn care. Cell Death Dis10, 317 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-019-1556-7

(6) Nguyen NT, Fisher DE. MITF and UV responses in skin: From pigmentation to addiction. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2019 Mar;32(2):224-236. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12726. Epub 2018 Aug 3. Erratum in: Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2020 Mar;33(2):383. PMID: 30019545; PMCID: PMC6336527.

(7) Holman, P. (n.d.). UV→D NOW - Why a supplement does not replace sunlight!. The Vitamind Society. https://www.vitamindsociety.org/blog-detail.php?id=29


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