No doubt about it… UV rays are responsible for DNA mutation, skin cancers, and premature aging.
If you enjoy a little sunshine from time to time, as I do, don’t fret! Luckily, our skin is a remarkable organ capable of fending off attack and repairing damages we humans inflict on it daily, and just like anything else, out of many negatives there are usually some positives. 😉
One of the few benefits of ultraviolet rays is the production of Vitamin D. I bring this up as we approach the dark days of winter and Vitamin D deficiency is a huge factor. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a form of depression that is often caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D.
SAD effects individuals at the same time every year, typically starting around the fall months and continuing into the winter months. Symptoms include, moodiness, significant drop in energy levels, anxiety, weight gain, and fatigue, just to name a few. Light Therapy using light boxes are common in the treatment of SAD.
Vitamin D also plays other fundamental roles in the human body. For one, it is vital in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are essential for the health, quality, and development of bones. It is a major contributor to mental health, brain function, and the overall health of our immune system. Vitamin D is critical in the prevention of autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, certain cancers, and even heart disease. In women, it may help in the prevention of breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and bladder cancer. In addition, it helps improve skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
Along with sunlight, Vitamin D can also be obtained through diet and supplements. Foods containing Vitamin D include fish, eggs, almonds, broccoli, and milk, to name a few.
Although diet and supplements are a good source, sun exposure remains our BEST source of Vitamin D. So how much sun is enough sun? Exposure for 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times a week, between the hours of 11am and 3pm, is sufficient. This of course doesn’t mean you can skip out on your sunblock either! An SPF 30 should suffice.
As with anything, everything in moderation. Too much, of even a good thing, can be dangerous to our health.