One of nature's most healing agents, sunlight has the capacity to impact nearly every function of the human body at one level or another. A simple health promoting agent, sunlight not only plays an active role in maintaining good health, but it is also believed to be a critical part in helping to reverse various disease processes as well. We know that too much exposure can be a health hazard, but too little can be a health hazard too. We want you to be the healthiest version of yourself you can be, and that is why DAY SEVENTEEN will take us on a little journey through the warming rays of the sun, for your health, and not just for fun!
Though sunlight is known for it's role in vitamin D formation, most people do not realize that it is the action of the rays of the sun on the skin's sebum (natural oils) four hours after exposure which allows the body to manufacture this vital nutrient. It is a rather complex process, involving dietary tryptophan, B6 and other such components, which indicates that if one area falls short, the whole process can suffer. Frequently, our habit as humans is to shower as soon as possible after sweating while being outdoors, but in actuality, without these natural oils, our body fails to adequately process vitamin D. Additionally, we have a habit of blocking the sun from interacting with our skin by utilizing chemical agents which prevent burning (which is good), but also inhibits this vitamin D production (which is not good). Studies suggest that we need a minimum of 15 minutes of uninhibited exposure on at least fifteen percent of our skin surface each day to be healthy. For those living in the northern latitudes, experts suggest that this may not be enough to produce the vitamin D our body requires for good health (it may be wise to visit a specialist and have your vitamin D levels periodically checked). In the event that we are not producing enough, it may be wise to curb our habits to promote more vitamin D formation.
In addition to vitamin D production, sunlight also works with several other nutrients and chemicals in the body to produce melatonin, a night time hormone which helps the body repair and rejuvenate as we sleep. When our eyes are exposed to unfiltered sunlight early in the morning, our body sets in motion the chemical cycle that will result in melatonin production which in turn will help us sleep late at night. As with our human interference in the production of vitamin D, so it goes for melatonin as well. Rather than soap or sunscreen being the culprit of our failure to produce melatonin in the quantities and at the correct time, we can point the finger instead to sleeping in, to sunglasses and to window panes, to name just a few. All of these things contribute to our not getting enough unfiltered sunlight into our eye in the early morning when we need to in order to produce melatonin appropriately. It's important to spend a little time outdoors in the early morning light -- some have the habit of sitting on their porch taking in the rays while drinking a warm cup of herbal tea. You also can get your fresh Air this way.
Our winter time schedules often do not help matters. When we get up before dark, go into our artificially lit buildings, and then go home in the dark, it can really mess up our body functions. Some individuals cope with low light by purchasing specialized "blue light" units which emit 10,000 lux of special blue light to trigger melatonin production. Others spend time in tanning beds, or brave the cold like snow monkeys just to get enough light throughout the year. We, as always, recommend the natural approach whenever possible, but when sunlight is scarce and your health or sleep might be compromised, it is important to supplement to ensure you stay healthy.
Yesterday we were blessed with an amazing day for an sunlit outdoor stroll at noon, but when the days are frigid or cloudy, we encourage you to do the best you can to make sure sunlight stays in all of your days. Remember, the sunlight can penetrate the clouds to some degree too. You'll thank yourself for every effort you make when you feel those warm soothing rays of the sun reach to the depths of your soul (sunlight contributes to the production of serotonin -- the happy hormone -- too). Ten minutes, over fifteen percent of the skin, each day... that's a new goal!
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.