Sunshine & Your Health

The sun is somewhat of a novelty in this country, we don’t exactly get our fair share of sunlight. Whilst we highly recommend the use of SPF year round to prevent the effects of UV rays on your skin, we also advise getting a bit of sun to help in aspects of your mental and physical health. Warning, you may find yourself scrolling Ryanair for getaway flights after reading…

Photo by  Juliandra Durkin  on  Unsplash

Your Mental Health & Sunshine

You’ve probably noticed people seem happier (if only a tiny bit) when the sun is out, especially in Ireland. It can be absolutely freezing but if there are very few clouds and the sun is front and centre in the sky, we seem to have a spring in our step. There are reasons for this…

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

When we’re exposed to sunlight our brains release more of the hormone, serotonin. A simpler name for serotonin is the happy chemical. Essentially, it controls the level of happiness we feel. By exposing ourselves to sunlight, our brains release higher levels of serotonin, aiding our happiness and wellbeing as well as digestion, appetite, and sleep.

Less exposure to sunlight makes our serotonin levels dip, meaning we can feel down. So, if you’re feeling a bit down, it could be the weather. We recommend making an effort to catch some rays. In our climate that’s not always an option, if you feel you may suffer from SAD, a lightbox which emanates sunlight could be an option for you. Or, book that extended sun-holiday you’ve been dreaming of, it may not change your life but it will definitely up your serotonin and change your mood!

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Your Physical Health & Sunshine

There are so many different benefits of a bit of sunshine on our bodies. From healthier bones to cancer prevention, sunlight has great health benefits. We are not recommending prolonged exposure to sunlight as this can lead to sunburn and skin cancer, but exposure in moderation is great for our health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when our skin is exposed to the sun’s UV light, hence its nickname “the sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D is extremely important for our health as it aids in fighting disease.  Vitamin D is especially necessary for children, helping to prevent the spread of illnesses picked up in the schoolyard like the flu.

Bone Health

As we mentioned, exposure to sunlight increases the production of Vitamin D. In order for our bones to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen our bones, we need to be exposed to sunlight. Sun exposure is especially important for older people who need to absorb a lot of calcium to protect their bones against diseases such as osteoporosis.

Cancer Prevention

We’ve been warned prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can be damaging to our skin and cause skin cancers. However, studies have found that moderate exposure to sunshine is beneficial and preventative to some strains of cancer. These include:

  • colon cancer

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • ovarian cancer

  • pancreatic cancer

  • prostate cancer

In conclusion, sunlight is important for our mental and physical health, that’s for sure. However, it is important to moderate time spent in the sun. Sunlight is strongest between 11am-3pm, SPF should be worn during these times. It is recommended to spend 15-20 minutes in the sun per day (SPF free) to get a healthy amount of sunlight and not cause serious harm to the skin.

Photo by  Julia Caesar  on  Unsplash

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash