Some people have started calling nature “vitamin N” and point out that most modern folks suffer from a “vitamin N deficiency.” Well, we’d like to propose there is a widespread “vitamin S” deficiency as well from getting too little sun exposure.
The other day we heard someone say, “I don’t get to spend much time in the sun, but it’s OK because I take vitamin D supplements.”
While we’d be the last ones to argue against taking supplements (for many people it’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun even if you spend a good amount of time outdoors), supplements are meant to be added to a good diet and also a healthy lifestyle, not replace either!
And while it’s true that vitamin D, which our skin makes from sunlight, is vital to our health (and widely deficient in our population), sunlight has many other important benefits, many of which scientists haven’t even discovered yet.
In his classic book, Sunlight, written in 1980 (available free online), Dr. Zane Kime, MD, reminds us that humans have worshipped the sun as a life-giving, healing power throughout recorded history. From the ancient Greeks on, healers have kept detailed records on using sunlight to heal all manner of illnesses.
According to Kime, more recent scientific studies indicate sunlight is an effective therapy for lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol; normalizing heart rate; improving insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar in diabetics; increasing energy, endurance and muscle strength; strengthening the immune system and curing bacterial infections; increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood; and increasing hormone production, including thyroid hormone.
One interesting use of the sun recorded by the Greeks and Romans was for building muscle and reducing fat and excess weight independent of exercise. Of course combining sunlight with exercise (the Greeks used to exercise nude) is even more effective.
In his book, The Healing Sun, Richard Hobday also notes the use of sunlight to facilitate detoxification; increase helpful hormones and neurotransmitters like cortisol, serotonin, GABA and dopamine that promote energy, happiness and weight loss; treat multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis; kill chronic viral infections in the blood; and prevent and treat cancer. (That’s right, cancer! Two ways sunlight fights cancer are 1) it strengthens immunity and 2) it increases the amount of oxygen that gets into cells.)
It’s widely accepted that sunlight helps to normalize circadian rhythms (those body cues that dictate when to sleep and when to get hungry) and has a positive influence on mood.
So get out in the sun! It feels great, and it’s great for you as long as you use it intelligently.
We’ve written before about the inadvisability of using sunscreens (which obstruct many of the sun’s potential benefits, including vitamin D) and better ways to protect yourself. See also Protecting Your Skin from the Sun by 1) maximizing antioxidant intake, 2) consuming the right oils, 3) using antioxidants and lubricating oils topically, and 4) intelligent sun exposure.
- BH Staff. You may not be taking enough vitamin D. Available at beyondhealth.com blog.
- Zime ZR. Sunlight. Penryn, CA: World Health Press, 1980.
- Hobday R. The Healing Sun. Forres IV36 3TE, Scotland, UK: Findhorn Press, 1999.
- BH Staff. How sunscreens age your skin and cause cancer. Available at beyondhealth.com blog.
- BH Staff. Protect your skin without toxic sunscreens. Available at beyondhealth.com blog.
- BH Staff. Protect your skin from the sun. Available at beyondhealth.com blog.