Medical studies show that moderate exposure to sunlight is crucial for the maintenance of good physical and psychological health. In fact, for most people, it may be riskier to avoid sunlight than to tan moderately, according to new research.

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Your source for Vitamin D

UV-B rays are the main source of Vitamin D for our bodies, which helps to promote healthy bones and the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in the body. Sunlight is the body’s only natural and reliable source of Vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin – linked to the prevention of breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers – cannot be reliably supplemented in our diet.

  • Holick, Dr. M., et al. “Sunlight Regulates?” Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 68:882, 1989.
  • Matsuoka, L., et al. “Suntanning and Cutaneous Synthesis of Vitamin D3” Journal of Clinical Medicine. 116:87, 1990.

Reduce your risk of heart disease

Exposure to sunlight may have similar effects as exercise; decreased blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, a 39% increase in the output of blood. UV light is also known to help breakdown cholesterol.

  • Falkenbach, Dr. A., et al. “Heart Rate Fitness Variability?” Biological Effects of Light. New York, Walter de Gruyter, 1992.

Beat the “winter blues”

70% of patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) show improvement after UV treatment, the only known cure for the “winter blues”.

  • Wirz-Justice, A., et al. “Light Therapy in Seasonal Affective Disorder is Dependent on Time of Day or Circadian Phase” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 50:929, 1993.

Increase your metabolism

Sunlight stimulates the thyroid gland, which boosts your metabolism.

  • Hollwich, Fritz, The influence of Ocular Light Perception on Metabolism in Man and in Animal. New York: Springer Verlag, 1979.

Minimize you risk of osteoporosis

Because UV exposure produces Vitamin D which helps in the absorption of calcium into bones, you could decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • “Interim Report and Recommendations for Osteoporosis”, World Health Organization’s Task Force for Osteoporosis, November 4, 1999.

Reduce specific types of cancer

Many types of cancer – including breast, colon, prostate and ovarian – are slowed or inhibited by maintain proper Vitamin D levels. More than 138,000 Americans die each year from breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers. One 1993 study claims that the wide spread public adoption of regular, moderate sun exposure could prevent 30,000 breast and colon cancer deaths each year.

  • Garland, Dr. C., et al. “Calcium and Colon Cancer: Clinical Nutrition. July/August pgs. 161-166, 1986.

Reduce common colds by 40%

Ten minutes of exposure to ultraviolet light 1-3 times per week reduces the frequency of colds up to 40.3%.

  • Kime, Dr. Z. Sunlight. Penryn, CA: World Health Publications, 1980.

Other important health facts

As taken from the Smart Tan Network’s Tanning Facts:

  • The significant risks involved with ultraviolet light are attributed to over-exposure – not to moderate tanning. No study has ever linked moderate tanning – indoors or outdoors – as a causative factor of any kind of permanent skin damage. Sunburn and heredity, on the other hand, are the main risk factors for skin damage.
  • Surveys have shown that indoor tanners are less likely to sunburn when they are outdoors.
  • Indoor tanning units are designed to help you minimize your risk of sunburn.
  • Indoor tanners are 80% less likely to sunburn outdoors than non-tanners.
  • Cancer rates are higher in sun-deprived areas of the world and decrease significantly as one gets closer to the equator. A 1994 study shows that Northern women have 5 times greater risk of ovarian cancer than Southern women who receive more direct sun exposure.
  • Malignant melanoma skin cancer is most common in people who do not receive regular sun exposure, and most frequently develops on parts of the body that are not regularly exposed to sunlight.
  • Like so many of life’s pleasures, tanning should be enjoyed in intelligent moderation. Avoid sunburn at all costs!

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