Health Benefits of Sunlight – Part 1: Synthesis of Vitamin D
Posted on: August 10, 2016. Comments ( 6 )

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Sunlight stimulates the body’s synthesis of Vitamin D “Sunshine Vitamin”, a fat-soluble vitamin, actually a steroid hormone. Vitamin D may be the most important nutrient you need—only 10% of your Vitamin D comes from your diet.

Make sure to get adequate exposure to sunlight and a diet that includes oily fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk to get enough Vitamin D, which has multi-fold health benefits—

✔   At least 1,000 different genes that control every tissue in the body, are linked to be regulated by Vitamin D, specifically D3

✔   Plays an important role in calcium absorption and, consequently, prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Calcium balance is necessary for teeth, bone health, nervous system, muscle contraction, and cardiac excitation

✔  Promotes efficient cell differentiation

✔  Boosts immunity and shields against onset of immunodeficiency diseases

✔   Plays a significant role in insulin secretion, regulation of blood pressure, and bone strength. Insulin secretion enhanced by Vitamin D protects against Diabetes Mellitus

✔  Heals heart damage and helps it to pump blood efficiently by regulating cardiac excitation

✔   Combats breast cancer, blood cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer

✔   Protects against cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome / Disease (IBS / IBD)

Technically however, ‘sunlight’—or ‘pure white light’—is mostly ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which is part of the ‘electromagnetic spectrum’. Ultraviolet rays exist outside the visible spectrum, i.e., they are not directly visible to the human eye.

UVR is of two types, long-wave Ultraviolet A (UVA) and short-wave Ultraviolet B (UVB), both of which are harmful in distinct ways—

    UVA penetrates deep into the dermis—the skin’s thickest layer—and unprotected, prolonged exposure can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling or “photo-aging”, suppression of the immune system, and even skin damage and development of skin cancer. In addition, UVA—mostly found in sunlight indoors, where protective UVB is absent—results in breakdown of Vitamin D and subsequently leads to vitamin deficiency. But, worry not—protect your skin by applying sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
    UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. Refrain from exposing yourself to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oxymoronically though, it is UVB rays that are essential for Vitamin D production in the skin, albeit through safe exposure between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Furthermore, UVB—mostly found in sunlight outdoors—is protective in nature and has been linked to decreased risk of melanoma (skin cancer).

Miscellaneous facts—

  • UVA in sunlight irradiates nitric oxide (NO) derivatives present in the skin and alters it into vasoactive NO, a key signalling molecule and a potent “vasodilator” that relaxes the blood vessels, specifically arteries. Consequently, NO plays a critical role in lowering blood pressure and improving overall circulation.
  • Blocking sunlight disables critical proteins that otherwise prevent heart attacks.
  • When sunlight hits the skin it is converted to Vitamin D by cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is necessary for good health.
  • 5-15 minutes of sun exposure, 3 times a week, boosts Vitamin D levels in the body, which promotes fat loss and enhances mood and overall wellness. The best way to source Vitamin D naturally is to soak sunlight on exposed skin—face, arms, legs and torso, 10 minutes on the front and 10 minutes on the back—between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., without sunscreen, and at UV index greater than 3.
  • Indians have pigmented skins and need longer duration of sunlight exposure than Whites.
  • Daily exposure to sunlight appears to delay onset of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)—a chronic, progressive hardening of the outer covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which leads to numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.
  • Winter sunlight does not provide much Vitamin D.
  • If you put mushrooms in the sunlight before cooking, they will contain higher Vitamin D even after cooking.

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Comments (6)


    Ashwin Sundar says:


    Hemant Mahadeo Nalawade says:

    get good information

    Dinkar Bagul says:

    Very Good Information

    Thank u

    Asma says:

    Informative.. thanks for sharing

    Sunil says:

    it’s fine article

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