Health Nugget – The Benefits of Sunlight

“There are but few who realize that, in order to enjoy health and cheerfulness, they must have an abundance of sunlight, pure air, and physical exercise.” My Life Today, 138

We are used to being told that too much sun can age and cause damage to the skin, even lead to skin cancer. Over exposure can also weaken the immune system. But insufficient exposure to sunlight is likely to encourage other forms of cancer, such as colon, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate cancers, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

There are, however, many benefits to getting an adequate amount of sunlight.

God designed sunlight and darkness to release hormones in the brain. Exposure to the bright light of day increases the brain’s release of serotonin, the hormone associated with boosting mood and helping a person to feel calm and focused. The darker light of night triggers the brain to release melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.

A lack of serotonin is associated with depression, often seen in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), found particularly when the seasons change and the days become shorter.

Being exposed to bright light as you near time for bed can prevent the release of melatonin and instead keep you awake when you might really want to sleep. This is one reason why it is not good to spend a lot of time gazing at the blue light on your cellphone right before bedtime.

Melatonin also reduces your stress level. Doing something active, like walking outside, can also help reduce stress.

Besides regulating the production of serotonin and melatonin, the sun’s rays cause the skin to create vitamin D. Five to 30 minutes in the sun each day, weather permitting, without sunscreen, is an adequate amount of exposure. Your skin type should be considered when determining how long to stay in the sun.

Vitamin D plays an active role in bone health, helping to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and arthritis, and helps the body maintain adequate calcium levels, all of which helps to prevent brittle, thin, and misshapen bones.

Since vitamin D also helps to control high blood pressure, the body’s creation of vitamin D when exposed to the sun can help with cardiovascular health. Conversely, insufficient exposure to sunlight, resulting in a deficient production of vitamin D, can be bad news for heart health.

Moderate sunlight exposure can also be of benefit in fighting certain skin disorders, such as fungal infections, psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

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It should be remembered that different places around the world have different climates and temperatures. The climate of some locations, like Hawaii, have minimal fluctuation in their hottest and coolest temperatures. Places completely or in part located north and south of the Arctic and Antarctic Circles can experience both constant sunlight and darkness, sometimes for months at a time. These include Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia. Antarctica experiences six months of sunlight followed by six months of darkness.

The Spirit of Prophecy speaks a great deal regarding the eight laws of health, one of which is an adequate exposure to sunlight.

“This is one of nature’s most healing agents. …

“Exercise, and a free and abundant use of the air and sunlight, … would give life and strength to the emaciated.” Healthful Living, 229, 230

“Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies.

“The things of nature are God’s blessings, provided to give health to body, mind, and soul. They are given to the well to keep them well and to the sick to make them well. …

“Nature is God’s physician. The pure air, the glad sunshine, the beautiful flowers and trees, the orchards and vineyards, and outdoor exercise amid these surroundings are health giving—the elixir of life.” My Life Today, 135

“No room in the house should be considered furnished and adorned without the cheering, enlivening light and sunshine, which are Heaven’s own free gift to man. …

“If you would have your homes sweet and inviting, make them bright with air and sunshine. … If you have God’s presence, and possess earnest, loving hearts, a humble home, made bright with air and sunlight … will be to your family … a heaven below.” Ibid., 138

[Emphasis supplied.]