The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Sunlight Needed for Physical and Mental Health

Sunlight deprivation has been found in a clinical study to cause profound negative change to portions of your brain associated with depression.

Further, "neurons that produce norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, which are common neurotransmitters involved in emotion, pleasure and cognition, were observed in the process of dying."

Study source - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 25, 2008, vol. 105 no. 12 4898-4903

In the Northern hemisphere of the Earth, February brings deep wintertime, with short days, and greatly reduced light. For the last 30 years or so, each summer has brought warnings to stay out of the sun, practically zero tolerance for light exposure, urging hats, sunscreens, dark glasses. There also seems to be a sharp rise since then in incidence of serious diseases usually not seen in the young - soft and porous bones, depression, chronic body pain (fibromylagia and related), diabetes, and others. Sunlight seems to have several effects, one of which is helping the body produce Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D is now known to be directly linked to higher risk of lung cancer, Parkinsons disease, diabetes, high blood pressure. Vitamin D is available in food sources, however you can also take a prudent approach to getting the several different beneficial effects of the sun, many of which cannot not be gotten though a vitamin supplement.

Last summer Scientific American published a survey finding, "Americans are losing interest in going outdoors." As health providers, we need to see if part of that is telling people that staying out of the sun is necessary for health. We also tell kids to finish everything on their plate and sit still, two more practices, that on examination, translate into, "Practice and learn to be sedentary and overeat."

  • Try to get outside every day, even if cold (within reason). Bundle up, if you have to.
  • Get light in your eyes. This does not mean to stare at the sun and induce cataracts, but to get sunlight in healthy ways for the several different crucial mental and physical benefits.
  • Melanoma skin cancer is not confirmed from lack of use of sun screen - NYTimes article.
    For a post on balancing needed benefits of sunlight and stopping unwanted negative effects, click Junk Food Through Your Skin?
  • Click the label "sunlight" for posts that tell more of the benefits of sunlight.

Read and contribute your own success stories of these methods. Before asking questions, see if your answers are already here - click labels under posts, links in posts, archives at right, and the Fitness Fixer Index. Subscribe to The Fitness Fixer, free. Click "updates via e-mail" (under trumpet) upper right. 
For answers to personal medical questions - Replies to Medical Questions. Limited Class spaces for personal evaluation. Top students may apply to certify through See Dr. Bookspan's Books.

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.