Exposure to the sun will likely remind you of the Spice Girls: too much of something is bad. But then, how much is excessive? Does this mean sunlight exposure isn’t exactly bad as people say?
Here’s Why You Need Sunlight
Sunlight helps your body in two ways: managing your circadian rhythm and helping you produce vitamin D.Sometimes called the internal body clock, the circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour-cycle of metabolic, physiological, and mental changes you go through.
For example, in the morning, the body produces cortisol, a stress hormone that helps you remain alert and focused. This way, you will be productive throughout the day.
However, at certain times of the day, cortisol dips. This explains why you feel sleepy during ungodly hours of the afternoon, and you love to grab a cup of coffee. In the evening, this hormone declines further to prepare you for relaxation and sleep. In exchange, the body pumps up melatonin, which slows down your heart rate.
The circadian rhythm, however, is sensitive to light. When the skies are overcast, you might feel sleepier than usual. When your mobile device is on in the evening, you struggle to get a snooze.
Sunlight is also helpful in vitamin D production. Both UVB and UVA radiation can activate 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) in the skin. This compound readily converts intopre-vitamin D3, which further becomes 25(OH)D orcalcidiol, better known as vitamin D3.
Once present in the bloodstream 25(OH)D is converted into the active form of vitamin D: 1,25-di hydroxy vitamin D (1,25(OH)(2)D) orcalcitriol. It then binds to a specific receptor that regulates genes involved in bone metabolism.
Many studies also reveal that vitamin D is great in regulating your immune system.
Those who spend enough time outdoors for at least 20 minutes in the morning (or more if you have dark skin) are less likely to catch a cold or develop an infection. If they do, they will recover more quickly.
Now, Here’s Why You Should Be Cautious
Anything beyond the duration mentioned above, though, sunlight could be harmful to the skin. Too much sun exposure can lead to hotoaging, a condition characterized by the appearance of wrinkles, droopy or sagging skin, and dark spots.This happens because sunlight can impact collagen, the most abundant protein in the body and an essential part of the extracellular matrix (ECM).
ECM serves as the body’s scaffolding, giving it support and form. Collagen, meanwhile, makes the connective tissues elastic, flexible, and plump. Ever wonder why babies’ skins are “bouncy”?
Over time, the body’s production of collagen decreases. That’s why you will start to see fine lines and wrinkles when you turn 40 years old. However, some factors can accelerate the process, including sunlight. Sunlight streams UVA and UVB rays that can penetrate the various layers of the skin, causing damage to the cells and collagen in the long run. The latter can become loose, for example. Worse, if this damage continues, the person is now at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. It can include melanoma, which can be both tricky to treat and diagnose.
How to Lower Your Sunlight Exposure
Today, battling with photoagingis easier with products like a hydrating water-based serum to retain as much moisture as possible and protect the skin barrier. Some also contain vitamin C, which lowers the levels of antioxidants and supports the production of collagen.
Moreover, if you live in the tropics and have dark skin, you already have extra protection. Melanin, which creates your skin color, lowers the odds of developing sunburn and skin cancer. The incidence of this disease is low in the country.
However, that doesn’t mean it cannot happen, and it’s not bad to take care of your skin even better. After all, it’s the biggest organ in the body and your first defense against harmful environmental elements, including some microorganisms.
Here are other tips to reduce your exposure to sunlight:
Do people need sunlight? Of course! Without it, your metabolism is going to be out of whack, and you’ll be prone to illnesses. But anything more is bad, so limit your exposure to keep your skin safe.