Fast Facts – Sunshine and the Brain

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

This week marks the first week of summer, and you know what that means. Fun in the sun. We often hear about the risks of getting too much sun, but there are also positive effects of sun exposure. The sun is much more than its potential pitfalls and can do plenty of good things for your body.

Soaking up some sunlight can do wonders for your mind, your bones, and more. When you give your skin access to a healthy dose of the sun’s rays, you are likely to experience some tangible benefits immediately. Here are five ways the sun can affect your mental and physical health.

Number one, increased vitamin D. Vitamin D has some important functions in the body. It promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth. It’s also very hard to get enough from our food sources alone. The sun is the best natural source of vitamin D and it only takes about five to 15 minutes of sunlight a few times a week to notice a difference. Get outside and expose yourself to direct sun on your arms and your face to soak up this necessary vitamin. Just remember to use sunscreen if you’ll be outside for more than 15 minutes.

Number two, improved mood. It turns out sunny disposition is more than just an expression. Researchers at BYU found more mental health distress in people during seasons with little sun exposure. On the contrary, days with plenty of sunshine were associated with better mental health. In fact, the availability of sunshine has more impact on mood than rainfall, temperature, or any other environmental factor.

Number three, higher quality sleep. That serotonin you soak up from the sun’s rays does more than boost your mood, it might also help you get more restful sleep at night. Working in tandem with serotonin is melatonin, a chemical in your brain that lulls you into slumber and one that sun also helps your body produce. Suffering from insomnia? Try getting sunlight during the day so you can catch some Zs at night.

Number four, stronger bones. Low vitamin D has been linked to diseases like osteoporosis and rickets, and one of the most specific benefits of vitamin D is earning stronger bones and teeth. How much vitamin D do you even need? Well, for adults, a daily intake of 4,000 international units, or IUs, is recommended. While calcium intake is also crucial for bone health, getting enough sun helps your body absorb the calcium better.

Number five, lower blood pressure. When sunlight hits your skin, your body releases something called nitric oxide into your blood. This compound brings down your blood pressure and improves your heart health. Maintaining healthy blood pressure can reduce your risks of cardiac disease and stroke. Feelings of relaxation might also naturally bring down blood pressure. So boosting your happiness by soaking up some rays also aids in keeping your blood pressure down. The sun can be your body’s best friend. Now quit watching me and go catch some rays. Wanna learn more about your brain and how it functions? Call and schedule your brain map today.

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Posted on

June 21, 2023