Why you desperately need sunshine


Stop hoodwinking the sun. Here are seven ways in which sunshine can leave you healthier.


As we increasingly prefer to stay indoors, embrace the air-conditioner and shun the sun, the many benefits of the much-misunderstood sunlight continue to get ignored. At a time when 80 per cent of urban India is vitamin D-deficient, it pays to soak up the morning sun and stop worrying about sunburn or skin cancer. We tell you seven ways your body can benefit from solar power.


1. Strengthens teeth: Sunshine can enhance your smile, studies claim. Over time, lack of Vitamin D can cause your gums to become inflamed and diseased. This means the tiny ligaments that attach your teeth to the surrounding bone become weak and you can lose teeth more easily. Vitamin D regulates the production of the antimicrobial peptides cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2, which may reduce oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease. Moreover, vitamin D strengthens the bone around the teeth.


2. Boosts eyesight: Although it`s wise to wear sunglasses on bright days to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, Vitamin D can preserve your eyesight too. Researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College, London, recently conducted tests on mice that showed improved vision and fewer signs of ageing in eyes after the mice had been given Vitamin D supplements.


3. Prevents breast cancer: University of Toronto researchers have found a link between the amount of time women spend in the sunshine and their risk of breast cancer. The study`s results suggest that time spent outdoors is inversely associated with breast cancer risk. Vitamin D may reduce the risk of multiple cancer types, including breast cancer. The study of 6,500 women found that being exposed to sunlight for 21 hours a week significantly slashed the risk.


4. Fires up sex life: Sunshine can spark a fire in the bedroom too. Austrian researchers discovered that sunshine kick-starts the male sex hormone testosterone, boosting it by a whopping 70 per cent. Just like Superman, a man`s libido is affected by how much Vitamin D he gains from the sun, the study found. Men who ensure their body is sufficiently replenished with vitamin D supplies will do a world of good for their libido.


5. Fortifies medication: A Swedish study has shown that the body`s ability to break down medicines depends on the season. More sunlight means higher vitamin D levels, which improves the liver`s detoxification system. Some drugs then working better as a result.


6. Lowers blood pressure: Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that only 20 minutes of sun makes your blood vessels release nitric oxide — the chemical that lowers blood pressure and which, in turn, helps reduce the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks, blood clots and strokes.


That said, researchers plan to look at the risks of heart disease and skin cancer in people who have received different amounts of sun exposure. If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, they will reconsider advice on sun exposure.


7. Recharges immunity: Sunshine can arm your immune system with the push it needs to fight bacteria and viruses. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen found Vitamin D to activate our body`s defences. It transforms your T cells into `killer cells`, which seek out infections attacking your body. Scientists feel this could be a major breakthrough in containing contagious infections.