Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. Ecclesiastes 11:7.
With all the bad press sunshine has received in recent years, you would think the healthiest of all creatures would be moles, cave-dwelling bats, and coal miners. Indeed, certain cultures have spent an inordinate amount of time seeking a deep tan, that, coupled with other poor health practices, leads to premature aging of the skin and certain cancers.
Life is as dependent on sunlight as it is on water. There are multiple reasons why it is so necessary for life. All warmth on earth comes from the sun’s heat-producing rays, without which all life would quickly freeze and die. The sun is a mega-powerhouse of energy, a portion of which is transferred to energy in the human body. Earth receives ten times more energy from sunlight than from our planet’s entire supply of fossil fuels each year.1 Plants require specific segments of the color spectrum, or they will fail and die. A portion of the same ultraviolet (UV) light that causes tanning and sunburning is also responsible for producing vitamin D in the body. Incidentally, UV light does not produce vitamin D through glass, so sitting in a bright spot in your home will not help you get your daily dose.
UV rays from the sun change a chemical in your skin into an inactive form of vitamin D, which is then converted in the liver and kidneys to an active form of vitamin D.2 You need it, because it is an essential nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium from the food you eat. In this way, the vitamin aids in maintaining healthy bones and muscles. The vitamin is also available through supplementation, but as with other nutrients, vitamin D is best when received from the most natural of sources, the sun.
Sunlight is also an effective bactericide. Ellen White alludes to this when she recommends that even our bedding should be “exposed to the sunlight.” Child Guidance, 124.
This is not an excuse to throw caution to the wind, however. Doctors Dail and Thomas3 recommend a daily sunbath of no more than 30 minutes, which is sufficient for production of vitamin D. Healthy sun exposure takes into account time of day (never during midday), temperature, weather, altitude, time of year and your skin’s sensitivity to being burnt. Use common sense. It is always a good idea to discuss your plans with your doctor, especially if you are taking medications. If you are not accustomed to sun exposure, and particularly if you are light-skinned, it is a good idea to start slowly, as little as three minutes a day, until you are able to increase to the thirty minute maximum. Always keep the above factors in mind and keep your eyes closed during the sunbath.
In her writings, Ellen White repeatedly reinforces the necessity of sunlight as part of our God-given plan of health. She wrote a pledge, shown here only in part, that includes this valuable healing gift. “I must eat those things which will be for my very best good physically, and I must take special care to have my clothing such as will conduce to a healthful circulation of the blood. I must not deprive myself of exercise and air. I must get all the sunlight that it is possible for me to obtain. I must have wisdom to be a faithful guardian of my body. . . . And when I violate the laws God has established in my being, I am to repent and reform, and place myself in the most favorable condition under the doctors God has provided—pure air, pure water, and the healing, precious sunlight.” Ibid., 367. [Emphasis supplied.] Would it not be beneficial if we were to say this pledge to ourselves regularly?
The messenger tells us that sunlight is also an essential part of raising healthy children. “The little children should come especially close to nature. Instead of putting fashion’s shackles upon them, let them be free like the lambs, to play in the sweet, fresh sunlight. Point them to shrubs and flowers, the lowly grass and the lofty trees, and let them become familiar with their beautiful, varied, and delicate forms. Teach them to see the wisdom and love of God in His created works; and as their hearts swell with joy and grateful love, let them join the birds in their songs of praise.” Ibid., 48.
Astronaut John Glenn once said, “I don’t know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets.” Not many of us will get to have such an experience in this finite life, but in the meantime, we can enjoy a bit of sunlight every day, knowing that, with a little caution, we are doing good things for our bodies. We need to take advantage of the healing gift of sunlight, until “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” Isaiah 60:19.