The sun gets a bad rap these days. As more and more people become aware of the dangers of skin cancer and other threats from sun exposure, we tend to view the sun more as a threat than anything else. And while it’s true that sunscreen is essential, the absence of sunlight can be just as serious a health risk as too much sunlight. Here, we’ll discuss just why sunlight is so essential, and how you can survive winter on a diminished supply.
Importance of sunlight
Sunlight, while potentially harmful if you get too much of it, is what allows for all life on earth. That warmth and light is responsible for everything. For humans, it has particularly pertinent health benefits. These include some of the following.
Eye health: Too much sun exposure can damage your eyes, yes. But if you aren’t getting enough sunlight either, it can lead to complications with vision. This is especially important for children.
Mood control: Sunlight is connected to serotonin levels, one of the chemicals that helps regulate mood. Not enough sun, and you can start to feel depressed and miserable. There’s a reason Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing.
Sleep control: Our bodies are amazingly complicated biological machines. We’re meant to be in tune with nature, and sunlight acts as a trigger or “reminder” to our bodies to keep in sync with the world. This means if we don’t get enough sunlight (especially in the morning), we can start to have issues with managing our sleep. Worse, a disrupted sleep schedule can affect our weight management.
Vitamin D levels: You’ve probably heard before that sunlight is related to vitamin D. But what does this mean? Vitamin D is a hormone our body produces that allows us to absorb other essential minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. (You can also get vitamin D in your food. More on that later.)
Sunlight on the skin helps promote our body’s natural production of vitamin D. You probably remember calcium is key to healthy bones. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D production through sunlight, it can lead to brittle and damaged bones. There’s even an indication that other organs in your body need vitamin D to help stave off infection and inflammation.
How to get vitamin D without the sun
Naturally, you want to get as much sunlight as possible, though with the proper protection from sunscreen and shades. But what do you do during the months when clouds cover the sun, or wind and snow keep you inside?
One way is to get some artificial help. Vitamin D lamps are a great way to mimic natural sunlight, “tricking” your body into producing more vitamin D. As far as mood control goes, try to stick to a set sleep schedule, even if the light isn’t around. Spend time socializing with family and friends, and eat and exercise well.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s also possible to get vitamin D from certain foods. As far as animal products go, fish tend to be the highest in this vitamin. Because of its importance, you’ll also often see beverages artificially fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and orange juice. But what about those who skew more organic or vegan?
The best veggies for vitamin D tend to be the darkest and leafiest green. Think of things like collard greens, kale, and spinach. And one of the best ways to get these into your diet is through Chef V’s green drink. Whether a 3 day juice cleanse, or our signature 21 day juice cleanse, our green drink has everything you need to stay healthy all year round.