Whether you’re hitting the beach with family and friends, gardening outside or simply out for a walk, being in the sun makes us feel happy.
Our bodies love the sunlight, from absorbing Vitamin D levels to improving sleep and our mood.
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin that most of us don’t get enough of. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun's UVB rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.
Vitamin D has many key roles in the body and is essential to our health. It directs the cells in your gut to absorb calcium and phosphorus — two minerals that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to serious health issues such as Osteoporosis, Cancer, Depression and Muscle weakness. With only a small amount of foods such as cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks and sardines, having significant amounts of Vitamin D it can be hard to get an adequate amount from these sources. Vitamin D is also very important in assisting the immune system. It is necessary to survey the rest of your cells. It can help beef up your immune to prevent those health issues caused from Low vitamin D levels.
That’s why getting enough sunlight is very important for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels.
Regular sunlight exposure improves your mood and focus by boosting the serotonin levels in your body, also known as the 'happiness hormone', it makes you calm and more active, therefore improving your mood.
The sun works through a number of receptors in the brain to affect our mental status and alertness. Spending time in the summer sun can help you avoid the winter blues. And sunlight decreases the risk of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression, and mood variation has been linked to sunlight exposure. People with SAD develop symptoms of depression in the winter months when there is less daylight. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, low energy or fatigue, loss of interest in daily activities, moodiness, and sleeping excessive amounts.
The amount of daylight exposure you receive is vital in maintaining normal physical, mental, and behavioral changes. Out of sort rhythms can encourage symptoms of both depression and bipolar disorder.
Natural daylight helps your body clock restart to its active daytime phase. The brighter your daylight exposure, the more melatonin you produce at night. Melatonin is a type of hormone that's produced in the brain during darkness at night. Also known as the sleep hormone, melatonin has a range of effects on the brain, from improving sleep to synchronizing your biological clocks, and lowering stress.
Remember to always be SunSmart
Although the sun is amazing for our bodies we have to remember to take care
And that we should always protect ourselves. Especially when outside from September to April. New Zealand sunlight can have high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can cause skin and eye damage. You can protect yourself and your children by being SunSmart and staying safe while still enjoying life in the sun.
Slip, slop, slap, and wrap is an easy way to remember to be SunSmart.
Slip on a shirt with long sleeves. Tighter fabrics and darker colours will give you better protection from the sun. And Slip into the shade of an umbrella or a leafy tree. Plan your outdoor activities for early or later in the day when the sun's UV levels are lower.
Slop on plenty of broad-spectrum, sunscreen of at least SPF 30 such as the Neutrogena range. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours and especially after being in water or sweating.
Slap on a hat with a wide brim or a cap with flaps. More people are sunburnt on the face and neck than any other part of the body.
Wrap on sunglasses that are close fitting and a wrap around style. Not all sunglasses protect against UV radiation, so always check the label for the sun protection rating.
Not being SunSmart can lead to Skin cancer which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand. Melanoma is the most serious type, and our rates are amongst the highest in the world. Skin cancer is largely preventable. Over 90% of all skin cancer cases are attributed to excess sun exposure. We encourage everyone to be SunSmart and to 'slip, slop, slap and wrap.'