What’s the Best Way to Enjoy the Sunshine Safely?

Summer is upon us and the facts about getting some sun are somewhat confusing. It seems like every week the results of a new study come out, “Sun is bad, cover up!” or “Sun is good, you need it!” What should you believe? While too much of the sun’s warm rays can be harmful to your skin, the right balance can have lots of mood lifting benefits. Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain.

Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping a person feel drowsy and go to sleep. Getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face, two to three times a week is enough to enjoy the vitamin D boosting benefits of the sun.

Exposure to the ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun’s rays causes a person’s skin to create vitamin D. The vitamin D made, thanks to the sun, plays a big role in bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis (brittle/fragile) and osteomalacia (softening of the bones). Although cumulative excess sunlight can contribute to skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has cancer preventive benefits. Those who live in areas with fewer daylight hours are more likely to have a number of cancers than those who live where there’s more sun during the day.

Excerpted from The Orange Leader

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