(Natural News) Most people know that the sun benefits their health by providing vitamin D – the skin produces it when it is exposed to sunlight – but not everyone knows what those benefits are: It can relieve pain, burn fat, boost immunity and even covert energy. This just shows how deep our connection is with the sun.
While there isn’t a dearth of information on how vitamin D helps the body, the sun’s other health-giving benefits are just starting to be explored. In an article on GreenMedInfo.com, natural health expert Sayer Ji listed some of the known benefits that we get from sunlight exposure.
- Sunlight has analgesic properties. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, reveals how researchers discovered that hospitalized patients who were located in the brighter areas of a hospital were less stressed and took less analgesic medication per hour compared with those who were in other locations. This also led to a reduction in pain medication costs.
- Sunlight naturally burns fat. Multiple studies have shown the relationship between sunshine and fat buildup. One study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, indicated that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light increases the metabolism of subcutaneous fat, that is, adipose tissue that sits under a person’s skin. While this type of fat is not a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the vitamin D that the skin produces when it is exposed to the sun is linked to a decrease in obesity by naturally burning fat.
- Sunlight, in solar cycles, may be linked to the human lifespan. Researchers in a study that appeared in Medical Hypothesis explained how a person’s exposure to the sun could affect the length of his life. In the study, they reported that people who were born during the solar minimum (a period of reduced activity from the sun) lived a little bit longer than those who were born during the solar maximum. While the difference wasn’t that great (it was only 1.7 years), understanding how the solar cycle affects human gene development could be beneficial to “enhance adaptability in a changing environment.”
- Sunlight can increase alertness in the evening. People who were exposed to at least six hours of daylight were reported to be more alert in the early hours of the evening, eventually becoming sleepier after exposure to artificial light.
- Sunlight could be used as an energy source. Just like how plants use sunlight to produce energy through photosynthesis, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested a novel approach to the matter. In the study, researchers said that the melanin could be used to “ingest” energy, converting it from light into metabolic energy.
The sun and the sunshine vitamin
In talking about the sun, it’s just right to talk about the main health benefit of sunlight exposure, that is, vitamin D. While it carries the “vitamin” moniker, vitamin D is unique from other types of vitamins, mainly because the body makes it on its own after the skin is exposed to sunlight. Even more interesting is that food items alone cannot cover the minimum daily requirement for vitamin D as an alternative to sunlight.
Depending on your skin type, you may need anywhere from 15 minutes (for lighter skin types) to two hours (for darker skin types) to get your body to produce the vitamin D it needs to function.
It’s important to get vitamin D because it supports bone growth. In particular, calcium and phosphorus – minerals needed for developing bone strength and structure – require it to be properly absorbed. Aside from this, it also helps improve the immune system, cardiovascular function, and brain health. (Related: Vitamin D reduces inflammation caused by Type 2 diabetes.)
Conversely, a lack of vitamin D can lead to poor bone development – even diabetes, Chron’s disease, and certain forms of cancer.