For most of us, sunshine brightens up our day. It lightens our mood to see blue skies and rays of sunlight. We know all about the dangers of UV rays causing skin cancer and premature ageing. Conversely, we’ve heard about the health benefits of sunshine for Vitamin D. We know because we’re constantly told by the experts. As soon as the summer sun makes an appearance, you’ll be hard pushed not to find an article in a magazine, or a news headline about the subject. We hear from experts all over about the dangers of the sun, and then a short while later all about the benefits. It seems we are safe in the knowledge that a sensible amount of sunshine is good for us. Over exposure and sunburn are not.
Getting the right amount of winter sun isn’t a problem if you happen to live somewhere with sunnier climes, but that’s not the case for many of us North Europeans. The UK has a moderate summer, but blink and you might miss it, plus autumn and winter bring no guarantee of bright, sunny days either. It’s not all doom and gloom, and of course there are many opportunities for us to wrap up and get out of the house over the winter months. But, we’re wrapped up in our woollies. Scarves, hats, mittens – the lot, which means our exposed skin for topping up on Vitamin D amounts to barely more than the size of a post-it note. Besides, the UK winter sun apparently doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to make Vitamin D anyway.
Taking a mid-winter break somewhere warm is one solution. It’s a great way to get a boost of Vitamin D, as well as giving you a chance to recharge your batteries.
Here Dakota Murphey gives you 5 reasons why getting some winter sun is definitely a good idea, in partnership with Panorama real estate agents.
- Vitamin D
As sunshine provides 90% of our Vitamin D, it’s no wonder that experts are now telling us to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement over the winter months. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet, which are essential minerals for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Given that the UK’s winter sunshine isn’t going to help, we have to rely on food sources, which frankly just isn’t enough (there’s only so much oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks one can eat). So, if you’re struggling to justify that sunny winter holiday, making it a health benefit may be all the reason you need.
- Lowers blood pressure
It’s official. Research shows that there‘s a link between Vitamin D levels and hypertension (high blood pressure). People with higher Vitamin D levels tend to have lower blood pressure than those with lower levels of Vit D. Scientists have discovered that sun exposure to the skin causes nitric oxide to be released into the bloodstream. Nitric oxide is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure as it relaxes narrowed blood vessels. It’s another winter sun health benefit.
- Reduces inflammation
Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defences. T cells (a type of white blood cell, which play a central role in immunity) are activated by Vitamin D. The DNA in our cells also utilises Vitamin D to signal an anti-inflammatory response. This explains why people with inflammatory diseases such as fibromyalgia benefit from exposure to sunshine.
- Improves sleep quality
The pattern of being awake during the day and asleep at night when it’s dark is no accident. Melatonin (a hormone that helps us sleep) is triggered when it’s dark, so shorter days in the winter mean we’re getting more of it and it may explain why we find it difficult to jump out of bed early on a cold, dark morning. Our sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) are disrupted in the winter months because we are overproducing melatonin during the darker hours of the daytime. A dose of sun from a winter holiday abroad might be just the ticket to help rebalance and recharge your batteries.
- Improves mood
Well what holiday doesn’t have a positive impact on our mood? Taking a break from the daily grind is in itself a mood lifter. However, there’s more to it than that. Sun exposure increases levels of natural antidepressants in the brain. You will have heard of serotonin (or 5HTP) as the brain chemical responsible for keeping us happy. Sunlight boosts serotonin activity. It’s not hard to see why sunlight deprivation can cause a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
It’s hard not to ignore the facts. Soaking up some sun on a warming winter getaway could be just what the doctor ordered.
This is a partnered post via Dakota Murphey. Image Source.