Updated: May 19
A common saying these days is catching some vitamin D when hitting the beach, going for a walk or just catching a few sun rays. As common as the saying is, how exactly is the sun good for us? I thought that there was a risk of cancer because of it? In moderation, natural lighting provides a wide range of health benefits that are not available with artificial lights. First and foremost, natural sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, which is crucial for healthy bones, teeth, and immune system. Exposure to natural light also promotes the release of serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, and reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. One of the biggest advantages is that it helps regulate our internal body clock or circadian rhythm. Exposure to natural light during the day ensures that we are alert and productive, while being in the dark at night helps us sleep and rest properly.
Maintaining Solid Bone Health
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the human body, which plays a critical role in maintaining bone health. Sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D, as the sun's rays stimulate the skin to produce this vital nutrient. In addition to bone health, vitamin D has been shown to have other health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and autoimmune disorders. This is an essential nutrient for the human body, which plays a critical role in maintaining bone health. Sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D, as the sun's rays stimulate the skin to produce this vital nutrient. In addition to bone health, vitamin D has been shown to have other health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and autoimmune disorders.
When our skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun, it triggers a biochemical reaction that converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol). This reaction takes place in the skin's lower layers, specifically the stratum basale and stratum spinosum. Interestingly, the amount of vitamin D that our skin produces when exposed to sunlight depends on several factors, such as time of day, season, latitude, skin color, and sunscreen use. For instance, UVB rays are most intense around midday during summer months, which means that we are likely to produce more vitamin D during this time. However, people who live in more northern latitudes (e.g., above 37 degrees) are more prone to vitamin D deficiency because their skin cannot produce enough vitamin D during the winter months when the sun is weaker, and they tend to spend more time indoors.
Of course, wearing sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) can reduce vitamin D synthesis by around 99%, which is why some researchers recommend that people expose their skin to sunlight for short periods without sunscreen to boost their vitamin D levels. Moreover, people with darker skin need more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as people with lighter skin because melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, reduces the skin's ability to produce vitamin D. Finally, vitamin D obtained through sun exposure is not immediately available to the body, as it needs to undergo a series of metabolic processes in the liver and kidneys to become biologically active. Therefore, it's important to ensure adequate intake of vitamin D through diet or supplements, especially for people who are at risk of deficiency.
Maintaining Eye Health
Another benefit with natural lighting is that it is known to be easier on the eyes than harsh fluorescent lights. Exposure to artificial lighting, particularly blue light emitted by electronic devices like computers, smartphones, and televisions, has been shown to disrupt the body's circadian rhythm and suppress the production of melatonin, leading to sleep disturbances and daytime tiredness. Prolonged exposure to blue light can also cause eyestrain and dry eyes, as well as increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects the retina and can cause vision loss. Research suggests that exposure to natural sunlight may help prevent macular degeneration, myopia, and other eye diseases. Studies have found that children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop myopia than those who spend most of their time indoors. The reason behind this could be that natural sunlight provides a higher intensity of light and visual contrast, which may help regulate the development of the eye's focusing power and prevent nearsightedness. It has also been linked with improved visual acuity and color perception.
Maintaining Mental Health
Natural daylight has been linked to increased productivity and better cognitive performance. A study by the Lighting Research Center found that employees who had access to natural daylight at work were more alert, focused, and productive than those who worked in artificial light. This is because the human brain responds positively to natural light, which activates regions associated with attention, memory, and learning.
Natural light has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs in the fall and winter months. Exposure to natural light has been shown to increase the production of serotonin, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall mood. Studies have shown that individuals with depression tend to have lower vitamin D levels, and supplementation with vitamin D has been found to improve their symptoms.
Maintaining Global Health
Finally, natural lighting has a positive impact on the environment as it is a sustainable and renewable energy source. Not only does it reduce the electricity consumption of households and businesses, but it also helps in reducing the carbon footprint.
In conclusion, natural lighting not only provides us with a visually stunning environment but also offers several health benefits. From regulating our body clock and improving mood to reducing eye strain and being an eco-friendly option, it is an ideal choice for spaces that require ambient lighting. So, if you have the chance, try to soak up some natural sunlight every day.