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  • Steven Erquiza

Pros and Cons of Sunlight

Hey everyone, Who likes to go to the beach, backyard, and just laying there under the Sun? Or go outside to walk around with someone like a friend, family, a boyfriend/

girlfriend, and be active for the day? I'm about to tell you how good and how harmful sunlight exposure can be for you!

Positive effects of Sun

Vitamin D - is an essential vitamin that plays multiple roles in the body. In addition to maintaining bone health. Vitamin D can protect us against diabetes, heart disease, and cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate. Vitamin D is required for healthy immune function and may reduce inflammation, pain, depression, and sleep. Vitamin D also enhances the absorption of other vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc.

Between 5 - 30 minutes of exposure to the Sun on your unprotected legs, face, arms, or back from the hours of 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. two to three times per week can remarkably increase your vitamin D levels. Those with darker skin, higher body fat, and those over 70 years old, their body don't make as much vitamin D and therefore have increased needs. Using UVB-blocking sunscreen will decrease skin production of vitamin D. You can also get your Vitamin D from food and dietary supplements. It's found in certain mushrooms, egg yolks, and fatty fish. Sometimes added to fortified milk and juices.

Relieve Stress, improves sleep, and enhances your mood - In addition to producing vitamin D, being exposed to bright sunlight interacts with our pineal gland. It regulates melatonin production, which influences our sleep cycles. Daylight and darkness can trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Being exposed to sunlight is thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is can boost mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can drop. Low levels of serotonin are can have a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD). This is a form of depression is caused by the changing seasons. Lack of sun exposure can decrease your serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression. The effects of serotonin are caused by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which causes the release of serotonin. So, you're likely to experience this type of depression in the wintertime, when the days are shorter. Because of this connection, one of the main treatments for depression with the seasonal pattern is light therapy, also known as phototherapy. You can get a light therapy box to have at home. The light from the box copies natural sunlight that stimulates the brain to make serotonin and reduces excess melatonin.

At nighttime, darker lighting triggers the brain to release a hormone that is called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Melatonin also plays a vital role in regulating inflammation and immune function and suppressing skin damage from UV rays. Going outside during the day and sleeping in complete darkness can boost our sleep. You can have a more relaxed and better sleep if you at least get 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day.

Negative effects of Sun

Sun damage to the eyes - In the long-term, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light from the Sun can damage the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue in the back of the eye, where the rods and cones make visual images, which are then received by the visual centers in the brain. Damage from exposure to sunlight can also cause the development of cloudy bumps along the edge of the cornea, which can then grow over the cornea and prevent clear vision. The UV light is also a factor in the development of cataracts.

Skin Aging - We associate wrinkles with aging. Still, sun exposure is a big factor in their development and how early they appear. UV light damages collagen and elastic tissue in the skin, so it becomes fragile. It does not spring back into shape, causing sagging. Some people can also get white cysts and blackheads on the cheekbones from sun exposure and smoking. UV light exposure also causes white and dark spots on the skin, as it damages the surface cells.

Sunburn - Sunburns widely recognized as one of the most common adverse effects of too much sun exposure. The symptoms of sunburn do not usually appear until about 4 or 5 hours after sun exposure occurs. Ultraviolet light is the cause of sunburn, which may come from the sun or tanning beds.

Skin Cancer - The worst cause of long-term exposure to the Sun is the development of skin cancer. Because the sun damage to the skin develops over the years, the older you are, the higher the risk of getting skin cancer. There are three types of skin cancer basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. In the US, estimated that 1.5 million skin cancers and the 8,000 deaths due to metastatic melanoma occur annually. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Although certain skin types are more prone to skin damage, anyone can get skin cancer. Therefore it is essential to protect yourself while having fun in the Sun.

Heat Exhaustion and heat stroke - heat exhaustion is when you're body loses a lot of water and salt because of excessive sweating. People who are in a place/room that is hot can cause heat exhaustion. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and can be life-threatening. According to the CDC, heatstroke causes the body's temperature to rise quickly and can reach up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 to 15 minutes. Heatstroke needs immediate medical attention because if it is left untreated, it can cause permanent disability or death. If you notice heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

Some symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech

  • Loss of consciousness (coma)

  • Seizures

Protection & Prevention

Much of the damage to our skin is caused by sun exposure can be prevented. Here are a few ways to protect yourself from the Sun while still enjoying all of the positive benefits.

  • Wear a hat, use UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes, and layered lightweight clothing

  • Use an umbrella to shade yourself during outside activities

  • A mineral-based sunscreen must be applied 20 minutes before going out in the Sun. It should be reapplied after two hours in the Sun and after swimming or heavy sweating.

  • Also, put sunscreen on your nose, ears, and the back of your neck too!

  • Take antioxidant-rich foods such as turmeric, artichoke, intensely pigmented fruits (such as purple or red grapes, blueberries), celery, parsley, and dark chocolate to help protect against skin cancer

  • Go to a dermatologist if you have new growths on your skin, a sore that is not healing, or a mole or other skin lesion that changes in size, shape, or color

  • Go to your doctor to check your level of vitamin D. If you are lacking vitamin D, take a supplement of vitamin D3

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