With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner now is the perfect time to get out and get some sun! There are many benefits to getting some sun because it contributes to the production of vitamin D and the secretion of melatonin. Both vitamin D and melatonin do a lot of amazing things for our bodies, no matter our age.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Bone density and health
Vitamin D is the essential component of your bones because, without vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium, which is essential for good health. Only 30 minutes of sunlight is enough to make your bones stronger, healthier and infection-free. In addition, sunlight promotes collagen production in your connective tissue, which helps you move quickly. When you don’t take enough sunlight, then your body may experience a lack of vitamin D, resulting in osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and spontaneous bone fractures. So, some people increase the intake of food enriched with vitamin D, but the most effective way to increase vitamin D is to raise the sunlight exposure.
Improved Mood and Cognitive Function
Ever notice how you feel happier after being in the sun? The reason is the sunlight exposure. Darkness and sunlight are responsible for releasing different kinds of hormones in your body by giving signals to your brain. Sunlight is known as a natural mood-booster because sunlight initiates the release of the serotonin hormone, which is responsible for better mood, happiness, and feelings of calm or focus. So, when you come into contact with the sunlight, it can improve your mood and feel relaxed. During winter, when the level of serotonin in your body is low due to the low intensity of sunlight, it can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As a result, people can experience more mood swings in the winter than in the summer season. In addition, the release of melatonin in the human body is also triggered by sunlight.
The Benefits of Melatonin
Improved sleep quality
Melatonin is a hormone produced from a neurotransmitter called serotonin and released by the pineal gland in the brain. It's commonly known as the "sleep hormone." Small amounts are released throughout the day, but the majority is pumped out at night, starting around 9 pm and staying at the highest levels during the night.
The release of this powerful hormone regulates your circadian rhythm, the driving force behind your sleep cycle. Melatonin is released from the brain when it becomes dark, signaling your body is time to sleep. So, increased exposure to sunlight during the day helps create a strong contrast between the two, causing a more dramatic shift when dusk sets in and the sunlight start to go away. This allows you to drift more readily into a deep, restorative sleep.
Optimized physical activity:
You're familiar with the fatigue, grogginess and poor productivity that comes with not getting proper sleep. Optimal melatonin levels at night help us to sleep better so we feel refreshed and energetic the next morning.
Improved Brain Health
Melatonin may be one of the keys to healthy brain health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, we know levels are lower in older populations and this may be contributing factors to developing neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Melatonin has a protective effect on the brain thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that defend the brain from the oxidative damage. By promoting good sleep, it also allows the body to improve brain health by cleaning toxic metabolic waste that accumulates in the brain during the day.