Adequate sunlight can impact your immune system and overall health. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies actually make Vitamin D when we expose our skin to the sun (1) and by definition it is actually a hormone (2). In Australia, it is fairly easy to have enough sunlight, and we in fact need to be careful not to burn. Exposing our skin to safe and healthy amounts of sun without burning in both summer and winter, will help keep your immune system strong (3) and your sleep cycles healthier (4).
Below are 3 benefits of sun exposure on our health:
VITAMIN D SUPPORTS IMMUNE FUNCTION
Vitamin D, is produced in the skin from cholesterol when you have healthy exposure to the sun. The most effective sun exposure for vitamin D production is in the middle of the day, of course, only for short periods to avoid burning. The amount of sun you need, and can tolerate, will be dependent on your skin colour. Vitamin D is critical for immune function and is known to enhance the function of immune cells. Adequate production of Vitamin D can help the body to fight off infections. Vitamin D deficiency may compromise your body’s immune response (5).
SUN PROMOTES QUALITY SLEEP
Sunshine can help regulate sleep patterns by affecting circadian rhythms (6), and promoting increased serotonin levels. Exposure to the morning sun, without sunglasses, acts on the retina to trigger the release of serotonin. Healthy circadian rhythms promote the release of melatonin in the evening to improve sleep. Quality sleep is linked to a strong immune system (7). So get some winter sun to help fight off infection.
BOOST YOUR MOOD WITH SUNSHINE
Sunlight releases serotonin (8), also known as the “happiness hormone”, resulting in us feeling more calm and alert. When our mood is good, we are more likely to make healthy choices around food, exercise and other lifestyle habits. Healthy habits promote a strong immune system!
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Sunshine is good for you! Although we have to be careful we don’t burn, it’s just as important for our health that we don’t avoid the sun altogether. Healthy sun exposure dependent on your skin type can help to keep your immune system strong, improve sleep and boost your mood.