Medieval jailers would throw convicts into dark cells that were devoid of daylight, and as a result, the prisoners would wither, grow sick, and die. Yes. We’re not designed to live in the dark and the darkness can literally kill you.
But nowadays may not be so different, except that we now throw ourselves into the darkness of indoors voluntarily. The sun, so vilified by the media, is actually your friend. And you’re not spending enough time with it!
It is undeniable that overexposure to sunlight can increase the chances of contracting melanoma. Burning your skin from overexposure to the sun is a harmful thing for you. That issue, however, is well publicized. I am here today to expose you to the flip side of the coin – sun underexposure. Not getting enough sun has its own body of consequences, some of which can be dire. The most known of these is Vitamin D deficiency, which turns out to be extremely prevalent in temperate climates. So how can you balance exposure to something that is necessary but potentially harmful? I’ll tell you.
Modern science tells us that there are different kinds of rays coming in from the sun, with UVA and UVB rays being among them. Sunscreen products now claim to protect you from both, but is that even desirable? No, not really. Because you need UVB rays to penetrate your skin in order to produce Vitamin D. With tons of misinformation out there, many people just choose to ‘check out’ and not deal with the sun at all. I strongly advise otherwise.
The reason is you need sunlight to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is not just a vitamin. It acts as a steroid hormone in your body. And it actually influences over 2,900 genes in your genome. Vitamin D is a great regulator of these genes. It suppresses the bad ones and stimulates the good ones.
The mere fact that we have Vitamin D receptors on almost all the tissues in our body (skin, bones, brain, liver) proves how crucial Vitamin D was for our evolutionary success as a species.
Sure, many foods contain Vitamin D naturally (egg yolk, cheese, fatty fish), but the best form of Vitamin D is the one your body produces upon exposure to the sun. You need UVB rays to produce Vitamin D and – surprise! – sunlight that passes through windows loses its UVB component!
Even if you’re not clinically deficient in Vitamin D, just being sub-optimal or insufficient can predispose you to many undesirable health consequences.
So the solution to your sun deficiency problem is simple: get out in the sun. Especially when UVB rays are strongest, between noon and about 3 PM, except during winter months. The key here is to get a good dose of UVB rays but not stick around long enough to get burnt. So get out under direct sunlight for 10-15 minutes – the closer to noon the better – and then go back under the shade of a tree. With this kind of sun exposure you can expect to have a markedly improved Vitamin D production within just days. Sometimes doing it while you’re sick can make the difference between getting better in a couple of days or being sick for weeks on end.
Vitamin D isn’t the only benefit that the sun offers, however. Your body needs every component of the whole solar spectrum (or sunlight). A recent British study proved the health benefits of the whole solar spectrum for us even when Vitamin D production component was removed from the analysis. Rays of various wavelengths in the bright daylight, even when it’s not sunny, catalyze a wide variety of vital metabolic processes in your body. They have wide-ranging health benefits and even impact your psychological health and mood, as the now-common condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder demonstrates.
The science is making it increasingly clear – you need both direct sun and bright daylight to be in optimal health. And if you find it hard to wade through and distill how to approach such an important aspect of your health, don’t hesitate to use my experience and expertise. Don’t do it alone. Do it with Dr. Inna. Because when you replace “i” with “we” – illness becomes wellness.