Vitamin D is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sunlight. However, that downplays its vital role in our health. I’m not telling you not to wear sunscreen, but I will inform you most benefits are blocked when applied. If you must, wear when necessary. But, become aware of the natural sun protection found in certain foods. Researchers are just beginning to understand the role the sun plays in our overall health. Just to give you an idea of the power of the sun, scientists recently observed its rays penetrates our skulls and reaches our brains. I’m confident more studies will reveal more about this recent finding. In the meantime, take a look at the proven benefits below.
Vitamin D From Sunlight Means Healthy Bones, Teeth, & More
I’m sure you’re familiar with the role vitamin D plays in bone and teeth health.
Before food fortification of vitamin D, kids who lived in U.S. cities were plagued with rickets. In fact, there was an epidemic of this degenerative bone disease. Scientists discovered the culprit was due to low vitamin D levels as a result of minimal sunlight.
Lacking sufficient amounts means weak bones and a high chance of fractures especially in the elderly. Cavity formation and soft enamel may also be an issue.
Vitamin D Sulfate Can Only Be Obtained From Sunlight
This is a newly discovered form of vitamin D. Previous studies tested whether supplementation was effective at improving heart health, weight loss, and immune function. The verdict was supplementing had no benefit for either of these. That’s because it’s impossible to get D sulfate from dietary sources.
One thing is for certain, the sulfate form is known to kill microbes throughout your body. Solar water filtering is used in some countries by placing water containers in direct sunlight. So, it doesn’t sound too far-fetched. Although we’re not water bottles, there appears to be an indirect way the rays kill microbes in our body as well
Chlorophyll + Sunlight = CoQ10
When you eat chlorophyll-rich plants your body stores some of the green pigment in your skin. It then reacts with sunlight to produce coenzyme q10 which has a wide range of health benefits. Low levels of CoQ10 can lead to gum disease, heart failure, blood infections, and more. It’s also a powerful antioxidant. Dr. Michael Greger goes into further detail.
Waking and sleep cycle regulation
Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Low sun exposure could be the culprit. Sunlight regulates our circadian rhythms which determines when we should be awake and when we should sleep. Low light or the absence of light leads to the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for putting us to bed on time.
Taking melatonin pills is not advised because they don’t work the same as the form produced from your body, and they may be dangerous. Look at this TEDx Talk by Sarah Morgan to learn more and see proposed technology to improve our home and work environments.
Sunshine Improves Mood
Maybe you’ve heard of seasonal affective disorder. In short, it’s when people experience depression and other negative mood symptoms when seasons shift. There is growing evidence to suggest the lack of sunshine is the primary cause. Serotonin is released by your brain when exposed to sunlight and it’s one of the “feel good” hormones associated with happiness. More specifically, it helps you feel calm, focused and contributes to contentment.
Nitric oxide release
Nitric oxide is a gas that helps our blood vessels dilate and help blood flow throughout our body. It’s absolutely necessary for our bodies for healthy circulation.
An amino acid precursor is L-arginine. You can find it in supplement form, but there are a couple of issues if used as the primary source. Some non-whole food supplements can be toxic and may not be as potent.
It’s unlikely L-arginine supplements are toxic, but they’re definitely nowhere near as effective as what I’m about to reveal. By far, the best way to get the blood pressure lowering, heart-healthy, and circulation improving benefits of nitric oxide is…(drum rolls please)… green leafy vegetables plus sun exposure.
Allow me to explain. The high nitrates, in these vegetables, are stored in your skin and are released in your body when exposed to the sun. This method is superior because the nitric oxide release is prolonged instead of the short bursts you get from supplements. Not to mention, it’s free if you eat your greens!
The calcium regulation of vitamin D has been well-known for a long time now. However, that shouldn’t be the only reason you step outside and taking D supplements doesn’t replace natural sunlight. Healthy circulation, sleep patterns, bones, teeth, improved mood, and a strong immune system should be all the motivation you need to get your daily dose.