It is 6 AM as my alarm peels through my sleep. It’s the dawn of a new day full of hope and new challenges. I rush across to feel the presence of the almighty in the first rays of the sun. The moment the sun rays hit my face I feel enlightened. I feel as blessed. I feel protected.
What is it that draws us to the sun first thing in the morning? Is there a superstition to it or is it just pure science. Well I think there is a definite Science associated with Sunlight.
From childhood our text books have taught us that Sun is the ultimate source of energy. Sunlight consists of electromagnetic radiation energy of various wavelengths, from the longest and the least energetic called infrared through violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red to the shortest and the most energetic in wavelength called ultraviolet radiation.
Ultraviolet or UV radiation consists of UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA and UVB reach the earth’s surface to varying degrees but have different effects on your body. As much as 100 times more UVA radiation reaches the earth’s surface than UVB. UVC radiation is completely absorbed by the Ozone layer and the atmosphere.
UVA contains less energy but penetrates deep in the layers of skin increasing free radicals leading to wrinkles, skin pigmentation and melanoma. UV-B is the high energy form of radiation that is absorbed by the DNA and proteins and is less penetrating. UV-B is the only form of radiation that starts the reaction in the skin that stimulates the production of vitamin D.
When the sun’s UV-B rays hit the skin, there is a reaction which enables the skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D which is also famous as “the sunshine vitamin” may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart diseases, diabetes and cancers of the colon, breast and the prostate.
Use of Sunscreen blocks UVB rays from penetrating into the skin. Daily Sun exposure without sunscreen during the summer (April-October) is enough for most people to produce adequate Vitamin D. What’s more, sunlight has other hidden benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia and also helps to build immunity. Evidence suggests that the most effective time of day for vitamin D production is between 11am and 3pm. A short period of time in the sun means just a few minutes – evidence suggests that about 10 to 15 minutes is enough for most lighter-skinned people – and is less than the time it takes you to start burning up. Larger the area of the skin that is exposed to sunlight, more is the chance of making enough vitamin D before you start to burn.
The Vitamin D making miracle starts with the sun. Now, you know how and where you can get your healthy dose of Vitamin D.