Lying outside in a swimsuit with your eyes closed and a cool lemonade in hand—summertime doesn’t get much better. But, if you’re like me, you’re also worried about having enough sunscreen, getting too hot, and becoming dehydrated. How do you know if all this fun in the sun is good for you?
It turns out soaking up the summer sun is good for quite a few reasons. After reading about these benefits, you’ll be reaching for your swimsuit and lemonade every day.
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We often hear that our body naturally produces vitamin D from sun exposure, but what does vitamin D actually do for our body? It helps us absorb other nutrients, such as calcium and phosporus, and reduces the risk of many diseases and health problems, such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes.
According to the Washington Post, vitamin D deficiency has profound implications for pregnant women. “Women lacking the vitamin are three times more likely to require a Caesarean section compared with women who are vitamin D sufficient at the time they give birth.”
Significant research shows that vitamin D can decrease your chances of developing cancer, as it promotes healthy cell growth. Researchers found sufficient vitamin D levels especially correlate with breast and prostate cancer prevention.
Use this guide to determine how much time you need to spend in the sunlight each day in order to get enough vitamin D.
Bones and Muscles
In relation to the above vitamin D benefits, your bones and muscles have a lot to gain from the sun. “Given that vitamin D can help absorb other vitamins, such as calcium, it’s no surprise that sunlight helps us build strong and healthy bones,” said Scott Hansen, executive director of Lake Ridge Senior Living.”
Low vitamin D levels can contribute to fatty, cramped, or impaired muscles, as well as soft bones. Make the most of your vitamin D by intaking healthy amounts of other vitamins your body needs.
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Whether you suffer from depression or seasonal depression (SAD), or perhaps you just need a mood boost, follow the sun. Spending time in the sun allows your body to create more serotonin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in helping people feel good and keeping stress at bay. While depression can be eased with artificial light, natural light is generally accepted as a better way to increase serotonin.
Some days, turning the alarm clock off and getting out of bed feels like an impossible task. Sunlight can help. According to the National Institutes of Health, you might sleep better if you soak up an hour of morning sunlight each day. Early morning sun exposure tells your body clock it’s time to be awake. This daily habit, combined with shutting off electronics and other light sources before bed, can help your body regulate melatonin, a hormone that causes you to sleep. Nothing says good morning like a bright, sunny day.
While it’s important to protect your skin with sunscreen and stay hydrated, you don’t want to miss out on the major benefits of a sun-kissed summer. So, go ahead, grab your swimsuit and lemonade, and let vitamin D do its work.
A version of this article was originally published by the Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.