Is Sunshine Good or Bad for our Health?

New science is challenging the idea that we should be fearful of sun exposure. Below are links to recent studies, keys to the health benefits of sunshine, and tips on how to expose yourself to the sun safely to get them.

Results of a 20 year follow up study published in 2014 revealed that Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. Participants in the study who avoided the sun were twice as likely to die from any cause than those who had the most sun exposure.

SUNLIGHT PRODUCES VITAMIN D IN OUR SKIN

Having high blood levels of vitamin D reduces your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes & heart attacks. It makes you less likely to die prematurely of any cause than people with low levels.

PROTECT YOUR SKIN

Prevent sunburns by gradually increasing exposure. As soon as your skin begins to turn pink, cover up with clothes and a hat and seek shade.

If you must be in the sun during peak UV times (10am to 2pm), choose a sunscreen from the Environmental Working Group’s Safe Sunscreen Guide. Try a sun block that provides a physical rather than chemical barrier, like zinc oxide.

In an article published in the June 2015 issue of New Scientist titled Shunning the sun may be killing you in more ways than you think, dermatologist Richard Weller writes that it’s time to rethink our exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays in relation to their health benefits.

SUNLIGHT PRODUCES NITRIC OXIDE IN OUR SKIN

Nitric oxide causes our blood vessels to dilate. The result is lowered blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (and better orgasms!).

HEAL YOUR SKIN

If you do get a sunburn, cool your skin down immediately with a cool shower, bath, or compress. If it’s a mild burn (your skin is pink to red, and dry), apply pure aloe vera gel, calendula ointment or vitamin E oil.

Seek medical treatment for any 2nd or 3rd degree sunburn that presents with blistering, raw skin, fever, chills or nausea.

Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits and veggies, and supplement with vitamins A, C, E & zinc as sources of antioxidants that will protect against free radical damage and help heal your skin. Take essential fatty acids from evening primrose oil & flaxseed oil to repair cells and speed healing.

Author Info

Elly Jenkyns

Licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Environmental Medicine Certified

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I focus on educating people about self-care and how to be more proactive with their health. Through monthly blog posts & seasonally relevant newsletters I’m able to provide ongoing information on health-related topics.