Summertime is approaching, and most of us are ready to get out and bask in the warm sun. The days by the pool, beautiful tans, digging your toes into the sand while sipping your favorite cold beverage. Can’t you just imagine it now? Summer fun may seem like a seasonal trend, but there are actually many health benefits we receive from the sun, and some of them may surprise you!
It’s not called “winter blues” for no good reason. There’s an actual medical condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Reduced levels of sunlight exposure during the fall and winter months have a cascade effect on the body when it comes to several chemical producing mechanisms. First in line is our Vitamin D and Magnesium levels. Though there are supplements and foods such as salmon, tuna, and mushrooms to help us get some of the Vitamin D we need, the very best way to receive it is via sunlight. Recently, we are noticing that it is very common for patients to have Vitamin D deficiency paired with Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is needed for Vitamin D to release its active form. Symptoms of this deficiency can be irritability, low energy, inability to focus, mild to severe mood swings, depression, joint pain, and more. In the winter months, even when it’s cold, try to wake up with the sun. Bundle up and go outside and take in the first moments of sunrise. This could prevent the depletion of these vitamins, and also help stimulate the brain to release Serotonin and Norepinephrine. These are the “happy hormones”, and will help create a sense of overall well being. Of course, in the summertime we normally get a healthy dose of sun therapy, but there are ways to still get your fix in the months that the sun shines less. No more moody blues!
Let’s talk about sleep bay-bee. That’s right! We need sunlight in our eyes to trigger optimal melatonin release (please don’t stare at the sun). This process is most effective when you’re outside in the early morning to early afternoon hours. The chemical is then produced and distributed as the sun starts to set. I’m sure you’ve experienced a long, fun day outside and recall having the best sleep ever. That’s not just because you may have been active, it’s also because your pituitary gland got lots of good stimulation to help you sleep! Melatonin is the amazing night-night hormone, but that’s not all that the body needs it for. It helps with immune function, heart diseases, fibromyalgia and chronic pain, and is even being studied and put to use by practitioners to treat and prevent certain cancers! That’s huge!! If that doesn’t get you ready to soak up the rays, I don’t know what will. And you’re welcome for the ear worm.
I’m sure you remember learning about mitochondria in 8th grade biology. These are the powerhouse of our cells, and we need them to make energy or to basically be able to do anything. There have been a lot of efforts poured into researching our mitochondria, and their findings are revealing to us how mitochondrial dysfunction is widely linked to disease states. There really are no existing medicines that do anything for our tiny little power plants, but that’s okay! We will let the Sun “shine” as the star in this leading role. Sun exposure is the best catalyst for creating powerful ATP. Essentially, the water in our blood cells absorbs the sunlight and then converts into ionically charged water, in turn activating the mitochondria. Studies in genetics rely heavily on the function of mitochondrial DNA to provide them with answers. We need healthy mitochondria, and it’s as simple as that. Something else that’s notable, we are in preliminary stages of creating exogenous mitochondria to be injected intravenously to support optimal health. Maybe Gentera will be drippin’ this in the future?
The look of sun kissed skin is in close relation to how we perceive healthiness. Radiance and glow can give the appearance of health and vibrance. There’s a lot of stigma behind how damaging the sun can be on our skin, and yes it can have some unwanted and serious effects. When it comes to protecting ourselves from overexposure, we should exercise caution. But did you know that most sunscreens are actually more harmful to your skin and health than the sun can be? A lot of them contain harsh chemicals that have effects that include everything from thyroid damage, skin damage, and even increase skin cancer risk. We like to work to reduce chemical exposure and toxic overload so the body isn’t constantly fighting free radicals. There are natural ways to provide protection, and more physicians are recommending the use of non-toxic products to do so. You can go to your local health food store and find a few great options on the shelves there. Get a gorgeous tan without the burn!
So whether you’re a Summer, hang-in-the-sun, kind of person or not it’s pretty clear that sunlight is very beneficial for many bodily functions. Try to get in 20 minutes of sunbathing per day (or about half the time it would take to start to burn for) for increased benefits. From the Gentera team- have a safe, healthy, and FUN summer.
NMA- Gentera LA