Sunlight and All Its Benefits: Can Sunlight Help You Keep the Weight Off?

Absorbing sunshine and breathing in the fresh air on a warm 75-degree day doesn’t just feel good, there are actually many health benefits to being in the sun and soaking in the sunlight.

1. The Sun Is A Natural Source of Vitamin D

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A group of Spanish researchers found that getting between 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight is enough to obtain the beneficial levels of Vitamin D needed in our bodies. Longer exposure may be needed in the winter months to obtain the benefits.

Vitamin D is called “the sunshine vitamin.” When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. Getting enough sunlight is extremely important for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for our health. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions like a hormone. Every single cell in your body has a receptor for it. There is a great article from NIH on the role vitamin D plays in the body.

It is estimated that more than 40% of American adults have a vitamin D deficiency, according to a recent study. An article by Healthline describes how low vitamin D levels have been linked to health issues such as, frequently getting sick, fatigue, bone and back pain, depression, impaired wound healing, bone loss, hair loss, and muscle pain.

If you are currently dealing with any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor for your recommended levels or dosages needed for Vitamin D. A routine blood test can determine if you are deficient.

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2. Sunlight Boosts Your Mood 

Scientists have found that sunlight can affect how much serotonin your body makes as well. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is known as the “feel-good” hormone often linked to feelings of well-being or sadness and depression when your body does not produce enough. It is secreted by the hypothalamus that allows brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with one another. 

3. Sunlight may prevent nearsightedness (myopia)

A 2012 study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that for each hour a child spends outdoors, the likely hood of developing nearsightedness dropped by 2-percent. In fact, in Taiwan, they have developed programs in schools to improve exposure to sunlight for school-age kids. These programs were based on recent studies conducted with 693 kids in grade 1. 

An ophthalmologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, Christopher Starr, MD, says exposure to sunlight stimulates dopamine production. When a person does not produce enough dopamine, elongation of the eye occurs, which can result in nearsightedness. Dr. Star recommends that kids should spend an additional one to three hours a day outside to ensure the proper amount of dopamine production.

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4. Sunlight Helps Keep Weight Off

Adults who get sunlight early in the morning are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI), a measure that takes into account weight and height, according to a recent study.

According to another study by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, sunlight shrinks fat cells and can aid in weight loss. The study examined the effects of sunlight on subcutaneous fat cells, or white fat cells that can be found right beneath our skin.

“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”

– Peter Light

To sum it up, sunlight helps to get rid of a specific fat in the body. People often gain more weight in winters due to weaker UV rays, according to another study.

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5. Sunlight helps you sleep better at night

Having the right sunlight exposure is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Research indicates that an hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better.

Sunshine regulates your circadian rhythm by telling your body when to increase and decrease your melatonin levels. Melanin is a chemical produced in the skin through sun exposure. Melanin is used in the body’s production of the hormone melatonin which helps with inducing sleep.

Studies show that the best way to adjust to a new time zone is to expose yourself to light in the morning. How cool is that?

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