The weather is starting to warm up in the UK and we’re all getting a little excited - the sun only has to make a whirlwind appearance and the whole country is celebrating with a BBQ in the garden whilst tanning under the mildly warm sun.
Whilst everyone enjoys sunshine, it’s particularly important this time of year to remind yourselves what the pros and cons are when exposing yourself to the rays!
Firstly, direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation means your body is able to product more vitamin D. In fact, sunlight is the primary source of this vital vitamin, a compound which enhances the body’s absorption of other essential vitamins and minerals as well as promoting bone growth. Without adequate amounts of sunlight, you could be prone to soft bones (rickets), misshapen bones as well as a higher risk to depression and diabetes, studies have shown. All you need is as little as 10-20 minutes of direct sun exposure a few times a week for your body to produce the right levels of vitamins.
The production of Vitamin D also means the production of melatonin, a hormone which naturally occurs in your body by the intake of light through the retina. Melatonin is directly linked to your sleep cycle – helping you keep alert during the day and sleepy once the sun has set.
Another benefit of the sun is the production of serotonin, or more widely known as the “happy hormone”, contributing to our wellbeing and happiness.
We are all fairly educated on the cons of direct sun exposure, but it doesn’t hurt to reinforce the importance of sun safety!
Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world, with just under 2,500 deaths from melanoma skin cancer in 2014 in the UK. Sun exposure causes the production of melanin – the pigment which makes you tanned. However, the production of melanin is actually the skin’s defense mechanism in order to protect itself from the harmful UV rays. Too much melanin in the skin can cause the skin cells to mutate and divide uncontrollably, which is exactly what cancer is.
Premature aging is also a huge disadvantage to excessive sun exposure. Eventually, too much UV light on the skin will break down collagen, decreasing the skin’s elasticity and causing wrinkles to appear. The break-down of collagen will also mean collagen production will come to an end.
So, with the sun warming and Spring springing, go out there and make the most of the sun (it’s not like we get it very often!) Just remember how important it is to stay safe - apply sun cream every day, regardless of whether there’s visible sunlight, it still penetrates through the clouds and onto your skin. That way you can reap the benefits whilst avoiding the nasty consequences.