With summer just around the corner, not that you can tell in Scotland, it is important to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks that the sun may bring. It is now common knowledge that the sun’s ultraviolet light is a prerequisite for skin cancer and premature ageing and the importance of wearing sun cream. However, there is little advertised on the benefits the sun can have on your health. Is it really as dangerous as well are all made to think?
In relation to mood the sun is known to relieve stress and boost your mental health as it releases a feel-good hormone called serotonin therefore spending time outdoors can be considered crucial around stressful time for example everyone’s exams around the corner. Take breaks everyone! More importantly I think it’s fair to say that seasonal-affective disorder is something everyone living in Scotland can relate to during those dark days in winter months.
Sunlight also helps the body make more vitamin D, an important nutrient for healthy bones and the brain to name a few. Vitamin D is not easy to come by in food products and is more efficiently made by sun exposure or taking supplements. I’m not saying to go and fry yourselves outside, but a little unprotected exposure does have its benefits. Nevertheless, the scare of skin cancer often persuades people to gain their vitamin D through their diet or supplements. Furthermore, many studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency is linked to cardiovascular diseases, brittle bones and cramps or joint pain. This has been indirectly concluded as a result of skin cancer patients being less likely to have a heart condition/attacks. As well as this, patients with vitamin D deficiency are said to be more susceptible to fractures because vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, an important nutrient in bone development and strength.
Finally, a person’s sleeping pattern can be hugely affected by their exposure to sunlight. To maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, or otherwise known as a body clock, it is important to be exposed to light during the day and darkness at night. This will make you feel more alert during the day, something we all need to stay focused on those arduous 9am’s, and tired at night. This then has a knock on affect to a person’s metabolism and overall mood.
It is made clear that there are many benefits to sunlight exposure however it is important that this isn’t taken too seriously. The sun is dangerous and does lead to skin cancers and malignant melanoma as well as drastically aging the skin and the appearance of wrinkles. Therefore, don’t forget the factor 50 kids.
-Lucy Rawbone, Science Editor