Most of us are told from a young age that we should seek shade and slather ourselves in SPF when out in the sun, and whilst we should be careful in the sun (and we are by no means telling you to ditch the SPF and sun hat completely!), if we don’t exposure our skin to some sunlight we could be missing out on its vital benefits.
Many people know vitamin D as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, because sun exposure helps our bodies to produce it. Vitamin D is essential for many processes in the body; however it is a common deficiency that is estimated to effect 1 billion people worldwide. The deficiency is usually caused by lack of sun exposure as – whilst some food sources contain small amounts of vitamin D – sunlight is the best source of the vitamin.
Sun exposure benefits
Sunlight helps the brain to release serotonin – a hormone that can boost mood and promote feelings of calm, and is therefore said to reduce symptoms of depression.
Being in the sun can help to regulate the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural ‘clock’ – meaning the body will start to naturally feel sleepy when the sun goes down.
Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium, the mineral that supports bone health.
The vitamin D produced by sunlight helps to support the body’s immune system, fighting off diseases such as the flu and heart disease.
How long should you spend out in the sun?
It is suggested that, as long as you don’t have complications with usual sun exposure, you can be in the sun for up to 20 minutes a day without sunscreen. To reduce the risk of burning though, it may be better to stick to 5-10 minutes.
If you are going to spend a prolonged amount of time in the sun, then you should wear a high factor SPF and try to take breaks in the shade.