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September 9, 2015 • Healthy Living

Sunlight and Health

sun1Although lifelong exposure to the sun’s UV rays is a known risk factor for non-melanoma skin cancers, it is important to balance this with the fact that regular prudent, “safe” sun exposure also has key health benefits. That was the passionate plea from the world’s most esteemed vitamin D researchers who recently published a review and consensus paper, “Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health.” The production of vitamin D in the body has long been known to be a vitally important outcome of sun exposure. Vitamin D is a “master regulator” of the human genome and involved in everything from bone health to cancer protection to the production of neurotransmitters.  In recent years however, scientists have also learned that exposure to the sun’s rays also triggers the formation of both nitric oxide and beta-endorphins. The former lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow, while the later enhances mental well-being, relieves pain, stimulates the immune system, and boosts wound healing. Lastly, the researchers noted that the sun’s light rays are also essential for establishing and maintaining normal circadian rhythms (the body’s 24 hour clock), which is fundamental to optimal functioning of virtually all life-processes. (Journal of the American College of Nutrition,34:4, 2015)