When you think about vacation or summer time, all you hear about is how much you need to avoid the sun. There is definitely irreversible damage to your skin caused by too much sun exposure, such as premature aging, sunburns and bigger consequences like skin cancer. But even though these are all valid concerns, there are also many benefits from spending moderate time under that great ball of fire.
Atapa Snana is a yogic phrase we use when referring to the healing science of sun bathing. Throughout history, civilizations have used the sun to heal many types of illnesses and bring about radiant health. With time, sun protection became an essential public message for anyone who enjoyed being outdoors in response to the rise of skin cancers.
What followed was a surge of people slathering on a bunch of sunscreen (many that are very toxic), blocking out almost all UV radiation, which led to less vitamin D absorption. Now I’m not saying to turn yourself into looking like a leather shoe—a burn is still a burn, and too much sun exposure is still a bad thing. But you should not rule out having a few minutes during your day without sunblock, under the sun. We should make it a point to go out into the sun (without sunscreen) at least three to five times per week to boost our vitamin D levels. Of course your skin color and the time of the day play a role in how long you should actually stay in the sun.
Here are some reasons you should soak up some sun:
Healthy Bones. Our bodies produce vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun, which helps us absorb calcium. As most of us already know, calcium is essential for bone health.
Reduces Heart Disease. Research shows that cholesterol levels increase in the winter or just to those who aren’t exposed to the sun, because vitamin D levels drop. In addition, people with high blood pressure attending tanning salons, are exposed to UVB rays, which also lowers blood pressure similarly to prescription drugs.
Prevents Diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and vitamin D plays an important role in the production of insulin. Therefore, exposing yourself to the sun may be one step closer to preventing diabetes.
So what does this tell us? We are on the verge of making an entire generation vitamin D deficient due to a misguided fear. So be mindful when exposing yourself to the sun; expose yourself slowly. With time your body will build up tolerance towards it, decreasing your chances of sunburn. Lastly, should you wish to stay outdoors longer, try creating your very own non-toxic sunscreen at home.