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4 Ways a Healthy Dose of Sunshine Can Improve Your Health

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC
4 Ways a Healthy Dose of Sunshine Can Improve Your Health

HELLO from Civello

It’s officially summer in south Louisiana! If you’re like me, you’re enjoying the longer days and the more leisurely pace that summertime offers. There’s more time to destress in nature and tend to our gardens, which can support mental and physical health. Another reason I love summer? It’s the perfect time to benefit from one of Mother Nature’s most powerful medicines – sunshine!

A healthy dose of sun can be an easy way to reap many health benefits. The recommended amount of daily sun exposure will depend on multiple factors. In general, getting 10-15 minutes of sun three times a week is adequate. If you plan to be out in the sun for extended amounts of time, make sure you are staying hydrated, protecting your body with sunscreen, your eyes with sunglasses and wearing a hat.

Here are 4 ways that a healthy dose of sunshine can impact your health:

Increased Vitamin D (The Sunshine Vitamin)

Many people have low vitamin D levels and don’t realize it. According to the National Institutes of Health, a healthy level of vitamin D is 50 nmo/L, which can be measured with a simple blood test. Even though I love being outside and staying active, when my Vitamin D levels were checked in January, it was surprisingly low. Now, I make an extra effort to get regular sun safely.

Vitamin D can reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer and strengthen your body’s immunity.

The sun is the best source of Vitamin D because it’s difficult to get enough from food alone. When ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun interact with the cholesterol in your skin cells, your body is able to create its own Vitamin D.

Improved Mood and Better Sleep

According to scientists at Brigham Young University (BYU), sunshine also can have a huge impact on your mental health. Research shows that exposure to the sun can increase the production of serotonin, a key hormone that can stabilize mood and improve feelings of well-being and happiness.

The sun also helps your body produce melatonin, serotonin’s nighttime sidekick. Melatonin is the main hormone involved with sleep. Serotonin and melatonin work in tandem to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, helping you to feel rested during the day and get better quality sleep at night.

Sunshine = Stronger Bones

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, which is known to play a significant role in strong, healthy bones. Low Vitamin D has been linked to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue.

Lower Blood Pressure

A beautiful sunny day can do wonders for your blood pressure. When sunlight hits your skin, your body releases a compound called nitric acid. This compound lowers your blood pressure. By maintaining healthy blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of cardiac disease and stroke.

Concerned about your Vitamin D levels? A primary care provider can help. Call (985) 236-0526 or click here to schedule a visit.

Hello from Civello is a monthly wellness blog written by Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC. Michelle is a family nurse practitioner with Northshore Internal Medicine Associates in Hammond, where she treats patients 4 years and older. In her practice, Michelle believes that open dialogue and individualized care are the best ways to motivate her patients and improve their health outcomes.

A veteran of the Louisiana Air National Guard, Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking care of her many four-legged friends, gardening, yoga, staying active and traveling. Get to know Michelle at: