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7 Positive & Harmful Ways the Sun Affects Us

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Some people say that sunlight is essential for your body’s vitamin D production; others say that you’ll get cancer from sun exposure, so what’s the truth? Since both parties are correct, the real truth is that the Sun affects us both positively and negatively. We should do our best to fully understand all of the implications of exposure to the sun.

Vitamin D and general health

A powerful nutrient, Vitamin D is essential for bone health, blood cells, and the whole immune system. That’s why you constantly hear people in the north, like in England or Sweden, complaining they are sickly due to lack of sun exposure.

Female Sun bath
Vitamin D is essential for healthy living

Adults get vitamin D from food, but this amount is insufficient, softening and weakening their bones for children. Furthermore, this vitamin helps our metabolism intake and process minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.

If your vitamin D levels are low because you live in a northern climate, then an annual visit to the seaside should be mandatory. On the other side, if you live in a warm part of the world, you shouldn’t spend too much time outside in summer.

Avoid looking ten years older

Although teens are constantly dressing up to appear older, actually looking older than you really are isn’t a good thing. One side effect of exposure to sunlight is precisely that: early aging. The more time you spend in the sun, the faster your skin grows older. If you sunbathe too much, you’ll notice your skin become wrinkled and leathery to touch.

Limiting the exposure to the sun

To reap only the benefits of sunlight, you should limit the time spent sunbathing. This is definitely the most important tip we have for you: moderate sunbathing is the key! When on a beach, use an umbrella to shield yourself from the sun, especially from 10 AM to 5 PM when UV rays are the strongest in summer. Furthermore, consider installing a pergola roof in your backyard to regulate the amount of sunlight hitting the patio and the house in general.

Female smelling marigold flower
Limiting the exposure to the sun

Changes to the skin

We’ve mentioned earlier that your skin ages are faster when exposed to sunlight, but it changes color and develops flat, dark spots, identical to age spots. This occurs because certain skin cells containing melanin form clumps.

The result is the skin’s surface’s discoloration, as freckles and moles appear in places you didn’t notice them before. These formations later develop into skin cancers, so it’s essential you pay regular visits to your general physician and/or oncologist.

Fast asleep

Our body regulates its internal clock by using the lighting levels outside. Once darkness falls, the body starts making melatonin, as we become drowsy. On the other side, as soon as sunlight hits our eyes, we start feeling alert and eventually wake up, hopefully fresh and ready for a new workday.

Exposure to sunlight helps better regulate this sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. Older people, who have trouble taking light in, stand to benefit the most from moderate sun exposure, ideally during a brisk walk in the park.

The risk of eye injury

Speaking of the connection between our eyes and the Sun, this relationship is not always a symbiosis. Namely, UV rays are powerful enough to damage the soft tissue in the eyes. The outer layer called a cornea is especially at risk, as it starts to burn when you straight into s strong light source, such as the Sun.

Blurred vision is the immediate negative effect, but over time the condition can grow into a cataract. Unfortunately, blindness is the ultimate result if a cataract is left untreated. Therefore, wearing sunglasses is not only cool in societal and fashion terms, but photochromic lenses help protect your vision.

The emotional benefits

woman kicking in the sea water
felt happier than usual

Have you ever felt happier than usual on a sunny day? There is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, as sunlight boosts a chemical called serotonin production. Not only do you feel joyful, but you feel energized yet calm enough to resolve any issue that might pop up that day (stress is virtually unavoidable). In fact, psychiatrists include sunlight exposure in treating several mental illnesses. 

The effect sunlight has on the human body and mind is ambiguous. However, if you are temperate in exposing your skin to Sun’s rays, then you can reap all of the positive effects listed above.

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