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You, Summertime and the Sun

By Gary Picariello

Treat the sun with respect and it will be your friend for life. Disrespect sunshine and it will come back to haunt you like a jilted lover. Too much exposure to the sun can literally kick us to the curb in the long run. The solution? Understand what represents the right “dosage” of sunshine for our bodies and how to use the sun for maximum effect for our overall mental and physical health!

The Good News

So many studies focus on the ill effects of too much sun that it’s easy to lose sight of all the great things the sun does for us. For example, weighted studies have documented that exposure to the sun is a great mood enhancer. Simply put, more sunlight means better moods, while less sunlight can lead to symptoms of depression. Ever wonder why we experience the so-called “winter blues?” It has to do with lack of sunshine during the winter months! In fact, research has shown that even indirect exposure to sunlight (i.e., through a window) can improve one’s mood.

Vitamins and More

But it doesn’t stop there. Studies have linked Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” to protection against colon, kidney, and breast cancer. It’s also linked to improvements in bone health and overall mortality. On the opposite end of the scale, neurological, cardiovascular, and immune diseases are associated with the lack of Vitamin D. By increasing your exposure to sunlight, you can decrease your risk for these diseases. Furthermore, Vitamin D combined with other cancer treatments also tends to improve the patient’s prognosis.

Prevention is King

You can reap all the positive benefits of sunshine and still be smart about it. Consider the following:

  • Exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided during the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Use sunblock with a sun-protection factor of 30 or more and apply it every two hours while in the sun.

  • UV protection exists in virtually everything from clothing, cosmetics, sunglasses and even contact lenses. You can be fashion-conscious and safe at the same time.

  • Perform skin exams regularly in order to notice any changes, discoloration or growths to/on your skin.

On so many levels the sun really is the basis of everything good in life. So it’s logical that sensible exposure to the sun can enhance our lives instead of cutting it short! Be smart this summer and treat the sun with respect.


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