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Sunny Side Up

While excessive sun exposure can be harmful, the right balance has been shown to produce many health benefits.

Both sunlight and darkness have each been shown to trigger the release of specific hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight increases your brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin which is associated with boosting mood and helping you feel calm and focused. Darker lighting or a lack of sun exposure results in your brain releasing another hormone called melatonin which is responsible for helping you fall asleep.

A mood boost isn’t the only reason to try to increase the amount of sunlight you are exposed to….

Building Strong Bones
Exposure to Ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun’s rays causes your skin to create vitamin D. According to a recent study, vitamin D made from sun exposure plays a big role in calcium absorption and bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia (a softening of the bones) in adults.

Immune System
Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. It’s a hormone that enables your body to produce over 200 different infection fighting proteins. In fact, the “vitamin” D hormone regulates more genes and bodily functions than any other known hormone. A 2010 Japanese study showed that school children taking vitamin D3 supplements were 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A. That’s a higher effectiveness than any flu vaccine.

So where do you go from here?
It is very important to recognize the value of sun exposure but this is especially relevant this time of year when the days seem much shorter and the amount of sunshine available is considerably reduced. There is a reason so many people “get sick” this time of year – this season of sickness comes primarily from reduced sun exposure. With this in mind, it is imperative that get as much sun exposure as possible this time of year. A vitamin D3 supplement can also go a long way in helping to keep your immune system strong and functioning at the highest possible level. In addition to these simple action steps, getting proper rest and regular exercise have been shown to be extremely beneficial throughout the year of course, but especially during the winter months.

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